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Canceled Flight

A holiday woe gives stories flight.

Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

Friendly Skies by Michael Fishman

The announcement came at 7:55, just minutes before boarding.

“We’re sorry to announce that flight 497 to Minot has been cancelled—”

Thinking about the merger meeting at 11:00 I joined the grumbles from the other passengers. I opened my phone.

“—has partnered with Twilight Wish and today we’re fulfilling Edward Bendix’s wish. Mr. Bendix was an Air Force pilot during WW2. Today is his 100th birthday, and his wish is to pilot once more.”

The flight crew wheeled Edward toward the gate. His smile shone as bright as his Medal of Honor. I stood, returned his wave and applauded.

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Repercussions of a Blizzard by Duane L Herrmann

I took my sons, 18 and 12, to Germany to visit relatives, then to Israel to the Baha’i World Center. Our first flight originated in Denver before coming to Kansas City, then to Chicago, then Germany. A blizzard in the Rockies canceled the first flight. We managed a second, but in Chicago the only seats to Germany were first class at regular price. I didn’t mind. Leaving Israel, I checked to be sure our flights were still good. They were. In Germany, I learned we had no flights home. I had the printed tickets, an alternative was found. Memorable!

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Me First by Madeline Murphy

“Me first!” said Dottie, rising from her wheelchair and teetering towards a line. Marie palmed her forehead, her eyes closed, worried her friend would topple over.
Dottie wandered through the waiting area, searching for an agent.

“Come on!” She waved at her friend. Marie texted.

Sit down. It’s not our plane.

“It is, and I’m first,” Dottie said, back in her wheelchair.

“Ma’am, are you using that wheelchair?” said an agent.

“Am I sitting in it?”

“You’ve been walking around.”

“Excuse me! The plane is loading, and wheelchairs are first.”

“Your plane’s not loading. It’s canceled.”

“Again? Damn airlines!”

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Let It Be by Donna Matthews

The counter attendant comes over the loudspeaker with the not at all surprising verdict…our flight is canceled after a three-hour delay. She has more to say but is drowned out by the moans, curses, and general discontent of my fellow travelers. Certainly, I feel the same disappointment but at least we have a course of action.

“At least,” I chuckle to myself – ever the optimist.

“Shit!” my husband exclaims.

I see a familiar dark cloud forming in his eyes, a wave of irritably coming into mine. A fight brewing. I take a deep breath and hum, Let it Be…

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The Missed Flight by Reena Saxena

His brother plays the drum in a local band in Virginia, USA.

They grew up in the same house, with similar interests. They applied for admission to foreign universities, and cleared all exams by studying together.

“Would you like to tell us how you reached where you are today?” asks the interviewer.

I missed a flight due to a small error in documentation, and my brother boarded the flight to USA. But on that fateful afternoon, I met a producer at the airport who offered me a small role in his next movie.”

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The Balloonatics by Geoff Le Pard

Godfrey Pricktingle held two important positions in Little Tittweaking society: chair of the hot air balloon club, the ‘Balloonatics’; and umpire of the spring betfest, when the village cow, Moose was released after her winter’s incarceration, enabling the residents to bet on where she would defecate first. Each year Godfrey offered to fly the winner around the village as a treat and each declined. Godfrey feared it was the smell that put people off; others worried someone might literally ‘take flight’ to avoid inhaling. In truth, the agglomeration of methane about his person rendered Godfrey a distinct fire hazard.

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Surviving a Qantas Crash by Doug Jacquier

It’s 29 October 2011 and never-crashed Qantas has grounded its entire fleet over an industrial dispute. We’ve booked with them to England for the following day, with connections and accommodation all locked in. Panic ensues and my wife and I hit our laptops to try to book with alternative airlines, only to find their sites totally overwhelmed. Miraculously, on the umpteenth try, my wife gets through to Singapore Airlines and books the only two seats left for their flight leaving next day for London. Months later we get a free ‘sorry’ trip to New Zealand. Never flown Qantas since.

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Scary Experience by Jane Aguiar

All airline pilots have had extensive training and flying experience so I had my training and flew for the first time in a private aircraft from Delhi to Mumbai.

Delhi was smoggy. Clouds seemed like smog mountains. So I tried to contact airport authorities about my flight and compass but I couldn’t contact them.

As I was in trouble, my brain stopped working. I had lost my way in smog but had a strong desire to meet my husband and family. That’s why I cancelled my flight and flew back to Delhi. It was a horrific and scary experience.

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Cancelled by C.E. Ayr

Christmas Eve.
The airport is packed with people desperate to fly south.
The blizzard still prohibits any take-offs.
Outside the streets are gridlocked.
No one is going anywhere.
There is no sign of a break in the weather.
We watch the news anxiously.
Almost everyone has a phone pressed to an ear.
What is happening elsewhere?
I get a call from my son, only fifty miles north of here.
Did you get away yet, he asks.
I can barely hear him above the background chaos.
You’ve got an hour, he says.
These things are indestructible.
We can’t stop th…

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Canceled Flight by Rebecca Glaessner

She detected heat, movement. No one’s stupid enough to be that exposed in the snow.

“Hide,” Narra commanded Jae. She nocked an arrow, elbow up, eyes trained, just as Diannao once taught.

Jae had drawn over Diannao’s face one day, but Diannao taught her to focus despite distractions.

The cabin door slammed.

Narra watched in horror as Jae ran by, “no!” She grabbed at him. Missed. Fumbled with the arrow. Dropped it.

She couldn’t-

“You’ve forgotten to breathe.” Diannao emerged, carrying supplies and Jae.

Narra gawked, “how-” and noticed the scribbles on Diannao’s metal face had persisted, despite everything.

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Ms Thunberg Regrets by Anne Goodwin

She’d been an oddball, a lone protester, Donald Trump’s nemesis, the most famous climate-crisis activist in the world. But now? Greta’s grown up, say her former critics. She’s sold out, say her former friends. But no-one imagined she’d accept Jeff’s invitation to board the flying penis. Why not? he says, as they don their spacesuits. She missed out on being a teenager. Let her have fun.

The media show the countdown. They screen the aborted launch. Jeff being unavailable, journalists ask Greta what went wrong. Nothing, she says. I told him I was on my period, exactly as planned.

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Ready For Take-Off? by Hugh W. Roberts

“Are you kidding? Why’s the flight cancelled again? We’re all desperate to get out of here.”

“I don’t know, Dave. Something about the pilot having a headache.”

“A headache? That’s no excuse. Doesn’t the pilot know we all got a job to do? Not another 24-hours stuck in this crowded place with you lot.”

“Maybe the flight will take off tomorrow when the pilot is feeling better?”

“I hope so. We’ve all got long journies ahead of us.”

Two days later, Dave’s flight took off. He made it to the egg first. Nine months later, baby David was born.

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Ice Up by D. Avery

After a mild lingering fall, winter came on fast. Maybe that’s why the loon stayed too long and had become trapped in a shrinking pool of open water.

After skidding the canoe over the shore ice, she paddled close and threw a blanket. She bundled the anxious bird away to a larger lake that had enough open water left for the loon to run on the surface, wings flapping until it could lift off and take flight.

Blinking, she watched the loon disappear into the gray sky, before returning to her small chilly home. Snow was in the air.

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Canceled Flight Canceled by Liz Husebye Hartmann

He peered over the edge, at the green and white rush and pull of salt water. He knew he wasn’t ready, felt he never would be. He was different than the others.

Leaning back in the nest’s twigs and grass, he looked up longingly. The others twirled, glinting in the sky, shards of rainbows and fire. They dove and darted, calling him to join them. They’d flown weeks before; soon they wouldn’t return at all.

His mother landed beside him.

I can’t. I’m not like them.

You are. More than you know. She shoved him, gently, from the nest.

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Flight Cancelled by Norah Colvin

Heron balanced on one leg on the bare tree branch above the water. He spread his wings and stretched his neck to face the breeze. He revelled in the freedom of flight even before his feet lifted from their base — the exultation of gliding through the thermals. Superhero Heron — like his namesake — was ready for take-off.

‘Heron! Heron! Get down. This instance.’

‘I am. I’m flying down.’

‘No. You are using the same ladder you used to get up.’

‘You called me Heron, so I can fly.’

‘You will not fly today. This flight is cancelled. You are grounded.’

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Canceled Flight by FloridaBorne

When people ask, “How did both your kids turn out so great?”

I reply, “They raised themselves well.”

Why?

We moved to different parts of the USA; from Minnesota to 5 other states, and back to Wisconsin for 7 years. Once my kids were 8 and 10, we moved to California.

My daughter was on a flight that arrived late. She immediately found out where the next connection was, and asked to be booked on that flight. There were only two people who immediately rescheduled, and she arrived home on time.

She was 14.

Indeed, she raised herself well.

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A Letter of Regret by Sue Spitulnik

To my son and granddaughter I will never get to know. It pains me to admit I have not aged well, so the travel time between our two countries is prohibitive. Though my heart desires to get reacquainted with my long-ago friend and meet my descendants, I fear the current trend of many flight cancelations has made me realize my hope to visit is unrealistic. Instead, may I ask you to send recent photos and letters about yourselves. I have included pictures of the familiar places in my life where I have imagined you sitting or walking with me.

Author’s Note: Thad’s biological mother lives in Vietnam. She hasn’t seen Thad since he was about six months old and has never met her granddaughter, Katie.

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Is Death Really an Ending? (Part I) by JulesPaige

Maureen had a legitimate reason to dislike flying. Seeing a newscast of a plane shatter when it hit the ground on the news when young didn’t help. She told her mother, “Just because I’d rather take the train to c’mon down to see you – yes I know that means less time with y’all, it doesn’t mean I don’t love you.”

When her Mom died she had to take a flight. Winter weather delayed it and then canceled it. Maureen took that as a sign to go home. After all, it didn’t matter to the dead body, did it?

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Is Death Really an Ending? (Part II) by JulesPaige

Maureen called her siblings. There just wasn’t any way she could make it in time for anything. Mom had been in a retirement community and didn’t have all that much left to distribute or ‘clean up’. The woman had taken care of all the ‘arrangements’ dealing with her death. So Maureen didn’t really feel bad about not showing up.

Maureen called her siblings with regrets. They would have to deal with whatever ‘hands on’ was needed. A final cutting of apron strings, that held little comfort. That canceled flight, that could be a new beginning for Maureen ~ freedom.

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Is Death Really an Ending? (Part III) by JulesPaige

That night in her journal Maureen poetically filled the page with questions
that she really didn’t care if they were ever answered;

Why Me, Why Me, Why?

Why is death something to be feared yet celebrated?
Why do siblings flee the nest?
Why then expect those left home to be the responsible ones?
Why be buried in hallowed ground where no one will visit?
Why is there a death tax, haven’t enough been paid in life?
Why be afraid of flying when there are drunk drivers everywhere?
Why should we honor the dead who gave us grief in life…?

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Cancelled Flight by Joanne Fisher

Princess Saphielle woke up excitedly. Today she was flying across the Broken Sea to the Kingdom of Strasal on her gold dragon Vanarth. There was a knock on her door. It was her servant, Tialha.

“Your highness Vanarth has dragonpox and cannot fly today.” Tialha informed her.

“What?!” Saphielle exclaimed. She ran to the dragon roost, and sure enough, Vanarth had red spots all over her golden scales.

“You could always fly on Ommyth.” Tialha suggested.

“My life is so terrible!” Saphielle wailed. She wouldn’t look so impressive flying on a silver dragon. The flight would have to wait.

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A Relief by Charli Mills

Snow blew in horizontal lines. The gate agent assured the twenty-four passengers the flight would depart. Downstate, Clarice knew small planes as puddle-jumpers but above the Arctic Circle, they were called ice-breakers. She shuddered at unwanted images of airplanes crashing through expansive sea ice. She wrapped her arms around a worn travel bag, willing the screen above the single gate to read, FLIGHT CANCELED. Winds howled outside the Quonset hut. Clarice missed family, her cat, her university friends. Luck had landed her an internship on Baffin Island. Would her luck run out? The screen flickered. Others groaned. Clarice rejoiced.

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Marta by Saifun Hassam

Marta, a commercial pilot for the Larue Mountain Range Services, frequently flew supplies and passengers to rural areas.

She was also a paramedic. Today she was on a medical mission flying from her home city of Porterville to the Larue Medical Center at the foothills of the snowcapped mountains. A patient was in a deep coma following seizures.

Dr. Jenny Marse and NP Jerry Walcott flew with Marta. Crosswinds picked up as they landed at Larue Airport. Jenny and Jeremy went immediately to the Medical Center. Marta’s return flight was canceled.

At sunrise, Marta flew the patient to Porterville.

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Long Way Home by Quinten Thomas

The Hawkins’s enjoy Berlin. Checkpoint Charlie, the Brandenburg Gate, the TV tower and the Holocaust Memorial.
The final morning, a taxi to the airport. Upon arrival, they discover their airline was on strike. Their flight home struck off. CANCELLED.
Check-in desks are empty. A TV crew accost them for a statement. Mr. Hawkins admits surprise.
Instructions next to a solitary phone. They wait in line and state details on their turn. The anonymous operator applies international rules and sends them to London, not Manchester.
Twelve hours later on home soil. Only three hundred miles to the car.

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Transpertashuns by D. Avery

“Sigh.”
“What’sa matter Kid?”
“Jist once it’d be nice ta git a prompt that’s smooth sailin’. Was hopin’ my ship would come in Pal, but now Shorty’s got us off ta the airport. My storyin’ ideas is grounded.”
“Really? It’s plain ta see yer given ta flights a fancy. Somethin’s sure ta take off.”
“Writin’s hard. I keep losin’ my train a thought.”
“Thinkin’ thet train’s gone roun’ the bend.”
“Huh?”
“Jist wing it Kid.”
“Okay, Pal….
It was a dark and stormy night…
“Keep chuggin’ Kid.”
So flights was cancelled.
“Yer drivin’ me crazy Kid.”
“Roun’ the bend?”

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Tool Time

Every fix or task has a tool. Which tools do these stories use?

Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

Grandpa’s Toolshed by Norah Colvin

Jacob worked tirelessly alongside Grandpa. He loved the sweet scent of sawdust curls and the heady smell of fresh paint. He loved that ash from Grandpa’s cigarette fell unchecked into the shavings. He especially liked using Grandpa’s real tools. The plastic bench at Kindy was only a toy.
Jacob’s visits decreased but Grandpa never forgot. He left the house, the shed and all his tools to Jacob. Standing in the dark, empty shed, Jacob tried to conjure the smells of Grandpa. There was nothing else to do. He rolled up his sleeves and started planing sawdust curls — in memory.

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A Bit of a Tool by Geoff Le Pard

Dumpling Pendulous ran the Little Tittweaking Tool Museum with the zealousness of a radical grammarian, leaving no semi-colon unturned. Spanner week, when all unattached males displayed their equipment was anticipated by the residents as a way of getting all spotty, beardless lumpen peri-menopausal adolescent males out of their respective caves. This year Dennis Fumble entered his nickel alloy double ringed with unexpected gusto while the normally reticent Godfrey Pricktingle made a show of displaying his antique iron clad single end. But everyone agreed nothing was quite as impressive as Kevin Largehampton’s freshly lubricated two-handed reciprocating adjustable.

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Hit Like and Subscribe by Kerry E.B. Black

Undine adjusted the loop light until it shone a perfect circle in her irises. Today’s vlog would bring her the coveted 10,000. Monetization couldn’t be far behind. She glanced at the arrayed makeup, more tools of her trade. The cosmetics company sent her samples which she applied as she wooed her audience with smiles and wit during the video. Undine wielded each product with the grace of an assured artist.

She edited and posted, anxious without reason, because Undine’s viewers pressed “like” and “subscribe,” thereby cementing her position as firmly as the setting spray set her latest look.

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Of the Utmost Importance by Gloria McBreen

‘Mother, where’s the thingamajig for opening jars?’

‘In the knife drawer.’

I open the knife drawer, which has no knives in it. I rummage through all sorts of instruments; peelers, weird scoop things, funny scissors, whizzers and all shapes of silicone. A slip-on spout? Gadgets with attachments, blades and prongs. A spork and a chork? What happened the chopsticks?

Ah… here it is. The yoke for opening jars!

I suppose mother needs all these accoutrements. How else would she peel fruit, slice avocados, zest her lemons, measure spaghetti, spiralize veggies, flip her lids, and beat her meat? I wonder!

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Last Sacrament by Anne Goodwin

As his hand disappears into his tool bag, I recall my boys’ toys: Joe had a carpentry set, Jim a doctor’s boxy case. Did they fight over the stethoscope and spirit level? Was there a rubber hammer in both?

My visitor spreads a white cloth across the table. Do nuns do his washing and ironing? Or is it outsourced to a laundry to be tumble-dried with a fornicator’s?

The priest drapes a tasselled purple stole across his shoulders and arranges his utensils on the cloth. A chalice and plate in shiny silver. A small round tin for the host.

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Necessary Tools by Kerry E.B. Black

Ellen wrestled two horses to the trough for their nightly watering. As the pair drank, a chestnut gelding dragged a protesting fourteen-year-old with eyes made enormous by bottle-bottom glasses. “Stop,” she pleaded, but he muscled in for his drink..

Ellen lowered her eyebrows and glared at the blushing girl. “You have to control him.”

“I tried. He’s strong.”

Ellen’s stocky build and assertive nature provided a natural mastery of the horses, something this stick-armed, airy-voiced girl lacked. “You know, not everyone’s got the tools for this job.”

The girl’s blush spread to her sun-streaked hairline. “Please, I’ll try harder.”

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Tools by Reena Saxena

If smallness bothers me, I humiliate others.

If inadequacy nags, I tell others they are not perfect.

Emptiness in my life drives me to get involved in other lives, stick to them like a leech they can’t get rid of. I transfer all my stress. I feed on their discomfort.

I have my battles but I blame you for that.

I convince myself life would be peaceful without these shadows looming large.

I need to cut them down to size. I need to see myself somewhere.

The tools employed indicate where I am on the evolutionary ladder. 

Someone knows…..

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Richie by Michael Fishman

The guys asked Richie to do bad things. Once they asked him to go into Wagner’s drugstore and steal a Playboy magazine. Nice Mr. Wagner, but he did it anyway.

Once they said, “Richie, ask Jenny Edwards for a date.”

“She doesn’t like me,” he said.

“C’mon, it’ll be funny,” they said.

Jenny and the guys laughed. Richie laughed with them, but he was scared, and he hurt.

Richie wasn’t stupid. He ignored their loud whispers; he rationalized their laughter. He told himself he wasn’t a tool.

Making friends was difficult, and Richie believed this was better than nothing.

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Pike’s Peak or Bust by Charli Mills

Bertie packed her father’s carpentry tools along with her calico dresses. The rest of his estate she sold to buy passage on the Merry Rover, a flat-bottomed steamship of the Missouri River. Somewhere, out there, where the sun set in streaks of orange and pink was her destiny. She learned the trade of building boxes and houses from her father, although none of the locals would hire her on account that she wore a skirt. Out west, her skills were needed, and she reckoned convention of gender wouldn’t matter as much. Pike’s Peak was not a bust for Bertie.

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My Best Tool by Duane L Herrmann

My shovel is my most helpful tool, used for digging, carrying and prying. I’ve tried to pry rocks out of the ground which don’t want to move. The rocks I want are mostly those we use as decorations. They’re special, in a variety of colors. They’re not from here originally, but were brought, ages ago; some are huge. The top of one, otherwise totally buried, is the size of a car. I can’t dig that one out! They were brought by glaciers. I’ve broken several shovels in this way. I’ve recently found a prying tool. My shovel is thankful.

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There’s No Tool like an… by Bill Engleson

Harley’s first sight of Pine Point was disheartening. The Hay River bus had barely made it through the snowstorm.

“This is no place for a city kid,” he thought.

Harley had volunteered for a four-month tour with Frontier College. He’d work as a miner during the day and teach interested coworkers English at night.

The bus dropped him at the bunkhouse.

The next day, Hastings, the Manager, said, “I’ve assigned you to work at the company tool crib. That way you’ll meet everyone.”

The first day, he spent two hours looking for a left-handed wrench.

Never did find it.

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Not the Sharpest Tool in the Shed by Doug Jacquier

In Australia, ‘tool’, as elsewhere, refers to a useful implement, and we have some ironic references to particular tools e.g. a hammer being called a bush screwdriver.

However, in Australia ‘tool’ can also mean either a stupid male person who draws attention to himself or a euphemism for penis. (Astute readers will recognise there is some cross-over in these meanings.)

Hence I offer the following terms as potentially useful additions to the English slanguage.

Tool shed – House of Parliament or Congress
Tool box – Politician’s coffin
Power tool – Blind follower of politician
Web tool – Conspiracy theorist e.g. Q-anon supporter

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New Era by Simon

It all began with this tools, my fingers.

Began a new Era. Nanotechnological suit, perfectly programmed codes now took over the human race.

No crime, No hunger, But, I was missing something, the interesting “Life” filled with lie, happiness and memories.

My fingers, began to rewrite the codes, remake the nanotech, a virus to begin with, I am the new Era time travelled Thanos.

One snap, 99% of the robotic elements disintegrated to useless piece of metals.

There began another new Era, Life without robots. How far it gone? N.AD 2021, the robots are back, in a better way

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Free-for-All by Rebecca Glaessner

“Shut down that network, then you’ll get your repairs.”

She left the meeting with a sour taste, and strolled through the grand foyer, flexing glitchy cybernetic fingers.

» Download complete « pinged across her view. A car waited by the curb and flashy skyscrapers shrunk away as it drove her across the city, a hidden basement complex.

“Got it all,” she said, “they didn’t have a clue.”

Her growing team poured over the stolen data, cleaned it up then released it to the network.

The rich had misused their tools. She found them a new purpose.

She flexed her hands seamlessly.

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Gemina by Saifun Hassam

Gemina was an engineer, with a talent for 3D printer innovations making nanoscale medical devices and pharmaceuticals. Her mom, Bernicea, ran a bakery shop in their home city, Port Montaine on Mars. Gemina tweaked a food 3D printer to make cakes and desserts. The machine couldn’t beat Mom’s cakes for taste and texture, but it created outlandish cake castles and space ships.

Gemina’s duties included the maintenance of 3D printers on spacefaring ships. To her thrill, Captain Celine of the OrionXXI offered her an engineer’s position, working on solar sails and fusion drives. A time of great space exploration.

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Carrot Top by Nancy Brady

Aloysius considered himself to be ordinary as any cat believes he’s ordinary.

His magical powers were just part of who he was. His flying ability, his strength, his speed, and other abilities were all tools to be used when needed.

Aloysius mostly used his powers in a positive manner, but every so often his curiosity got the better of him.

This day, Aloysius watched the waving fronds of carrots in his family’s garden. Mesmerized, he pounced on them, pulling a carrot out. He took a bite, but wasn’t impressed until he realized he could see for miles.

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The Throne by Liz Husebye Hartmann

It could have been a field of flowers, apricot sunrise honeying all. It could have been a berry patch, spread round with her the center, fingers damp with morning dew. It might’ve even been a dragon’s hoard, doubloons spilling from ruby-studded chalices, heavy pendants on worked, chain necklaces, diamond and emerald tiara resting on her head, proclaiming her queen of all she surveyed.

She sighed in resignation. No flowers, no berries, no dragon nor fairies. Just tile, mildewed and damp, a rug soaked and now slightly stained. This was what came of inviting people over.

She fetched the plunger.

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The Tools of the Band by Sue Spitulnik

Instruments, reeds, strings, sticks, picks, sheets of music, and lyrics. Reverb pedals, rugs, amplifiers, microphones, speakers, and drinks. Playlist on my cell. Straight-leg jeans, boots, hats, and jackets. Diamond studs shine from our ears. Big smiles are plastered for the fans. Damn, I forgot the words. The audience doesn’t seem to notice or care. We strum the guitars and cover with the snare. Get the crowd to clap in time. Hallelujah, the many tools of the band. Loudly blend the notes and words. It doesn’t pay a lot but makes me feel alive playing as the man I am.

Author’s Note: the band this refers to is The Band of Brothers, an all-veteran band in which Michael is a guitarist and lead singer.

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Fixing the Car? by Joanne Fisher

“What you doing?” Cindy asked.

“The car won’t start.” Jess told her as she examined the car engine.

“So why not call a mechanic?”

“They’re too expensive. Besides, I fix the tractor regularly.”

“Yes fix it regularly, because it keeps breaking down. Do you even have the right tools?” Cindy asked.

“Of course I do. Anyway I believe it’s fixed, see if you can start it.” Jess suggested. Cindy got in the front seat and turned the key, but nothing happened. “Okay, maybe it’s something else?” Cindy rolled her eyes. What would it take for Jess to admit defeat?

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Import Important by JulesPaige

I empoy the rake to
manage the fall leaves
piling them high at the curb for picking up
or some are for my trees
raked round their bases

tender protection for
inclement weather
might damage the roots that are near the surface
perhaps when snow piles high
over the back yard…

rest well with slow sap, my
trees that shed their leaves
and know that I look for budding health come spring
now though brace for winter;
time for dreamings’ nigh

——-
If I too could sleep the winter through,
could I would I sleep thusly
under warm leaf quilts

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Playground by Annette Rochelle Aben

Freddie and Remington sat patiently as their eyes followed Bryan’s every move. It was no secret what was going on in their heads.
Completely aware of his audience, Bryan knew he could get the job done quicker if he’d just go out and buy a leaf blower but he enjoyed the effort it took to rake the leaves into big piles.
As the piles grew, so did the dog’s eyes. And tails swished slowly.
When Bryan sat to have lunch. the two hungry pups practically flew into the piles. He laughed as they surfaced with mouths filled with leaves!

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In the Time of the Beaver Moon by D. Avery

“Jeez, Kid. Look’t them big words up there. Verisimilitude? Cain’t believe Shorty spelt thet c’rectly.”
“True, Pal. But I ain’t got time fer all this talk a tinkerin’ an’ word wrenchin’.”
“Well yer workin’ on somethin’.”
“Yep. Curly’s ready ta come home!”
“Changed her mind ‘bout bein’ a beaver?”
“Yep.”
“So why d’ya have all thet grease?”
“Curly done overdid gittin’ ready fer winter. She cain’t git out through the openin’ a the beaver lodge. She’s stuck in there. I gotta git her out.”
“Plenny a tension in this story Kid, but d’ya really ‘spect folks ta believe it?”

🥕🥕🥕

No Toolin’ by D. Avery

“If folks has been readin’, the facts are all there, Pal. Curly, my pet puglet, ‘dennified as a beaver an’ has been livin’ with the ones thet dammed up the stream that flows through Carrot Ranch. An’ now she wants out but is stuck.”
“Hmmff. It’s true thet puglet never seems ta know if she’s comin’ or goin’. So, ya got a stuck pig and a slick idea fer gittin’ her out thet involves grease.”
“Yep. Hey! Here’s Curly! Reckon the beavers had all the tools needed ta git her freed up.”
“Unbelievable.”
“Beavers are smart Pal.”
“No Kidding.”

🥕🥕🥕

Carry On

Luggage or burdens, writers carry on to write the stories.

Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

Advancement by Annette Rochelle Aben

Life doesn’t always play out the way you would like. There will be twists and turns even on the straightest of paths.
Corrie looked at herself in the mirror, almost not recognizing her own face. No longer the face of a child, the face of a young career girl, or even the face of a newlywed. No, this was a face of a woman who had been thought the mill, as they say.
As she pulled her hair back into a ponytail, a wry smile appeared. This is the face of a woman who has learned to carry on!

🥕🥕🥕

Carry On by Liz Husebye Hartmann

She placed one hand on her lower back and kneaded. He leaned rakishly against her neck, an over-familiar boyfriend, amorous and a little bit drunk. Both knew what was coming. Curling her shoulder to steady him, she swept her sleeve across her brow and looked longingly up at the near-bare deciduous.

He slipped off her shoulder and threw himself to the ground with a clang and shiver of tines.

She rolled her eyes. How he carried on! This happened every year. Exhilaration at the start led to wishing it was all over.

The snow shovel always replaced the rake.

🥕🥕🥕

Carry On by Jane Aguiar

I got married but a strange thing happened. My mother-in-law was sleeping with me since the day we got married, so we decided to meet outside.
We both lied to her and met outside. We went to a city lodge thinking that it would be safe but suddenly at noon the police raided the lodge.
My husband was very scared. When the police inspector asked for identity, I took out the marriage certificate and when they asked me to explain the reason, I told them the whole truth. The police inspector smiled mischievously and said, “You guys carry on.”

🥕🥕🥕

Where To Now? by Hugh W. Roberts

After witnessing the summer solstice and coming out to each other, Richard and Adrian face an important decision.

***

After witnessing the solstice, Richard asked, “What do we do now?”

“We carry on what we’re doing,” replied Adrian.

“But what if—“

“We’re young; we carry on who we are, not what others want us to be. Nothing and nobody can ever change us.”

“But my father, he’ll try. He’ll kill us. He’d never cope knowing I’m carrying on with another guy.”

“Carrying on? Another guy? Who do you love more, Richard?”

A long pause was interrupted when both young men turned and faced each other and spoke simultaneously.

“Let’s carry on being who we are. I love you.”

🥕🥕🥕

Carry On by Floridaborne

“Carry on,” the Englishman said, in a world war two epic.

My father replied, “Those were the days!” My father is dead.

I have, in the past, found a way to carry on,

Through family or friends.

My family? Dead. My friends? Dead.

While a woman who cares more about her bowels than my health feeds me,

Bathes my slender body in freezing waters, brushes my hair so hard

The pain would show were I able to speak, tears remain my companions.

While the doctor paid to look away says, “It’s only an allergy,”

I carry on in spirit.

🥕🥕🥕

Carrying On by Joanne Fisher

I loved her more than she ever knew. She meant everything to me, but one day she stopped talking and then she was gone. I gave in to despair and darkness, then one night I found myself in a warm bath armed with a sharp knife working away on my wrists till the bathwater turned red. How I survived that night I have no idea, sometimes I wonder if I did.

I know a part of me still hoped that things could get better; that the only way to survive all this was to carry on and eventually heal.

🥕🥕🥕

The Coffe Shop by Donna Mathews

“You know what I find so annoying?” she starts in just as soon as we sit down with our lattes.

“The damn text messages just out of nowhere – we will have just had breakfast and I’m sitting down to start work and then boom the, ‘We need to talk,’ text! What the hell! We were just together, and I had no idea there was even an issue!”

She takes a deep breath, a reload if you will, and starts up again. I sit there as she carries on and wonder if I’ll ever get a chance to respond.

🥕🥕🥕

Gotta Get the Groceries by Cara Stefano

Slumped over the table Liz sighed quietly as she readied herself for the weekly trip to the super market. With three children under the age of five and a busy single mom to boot, something as simple as getting groceries usually became an ordeal. Slowly she gathered everything she would need: masks and gloves, reusable bags, her carefully clipped and saved coupons, her hungry children, and her faltering courage. Promising snacks for all, it was time to go. Even in such uncertain times as this, all she could do was carry on.

🥕🥕🥕

Ineptitude by Reena Saxena

He trudges on in the desert, as the weight of the basket increases with every step.

Special boots do not help. The glasses he wears obstruct clear vision, The compass shows a certain direction, but he’s not sure why is he following that.

The ineptitude shows. He has never been trained for mental strength and clarity. Loyalty is his forte, and he does whatever the people he worships ask him to do.

The basket carries the fruits of his efforts, which are not sweet.

Yet, carrying on does not make sense, if one is not sure of the objective.

🥕🥕🥕

Duty, Restraint, Guilt by JulesPaige

Melekh had to carry on, after she died. After the family blamed him. When he had returned on their request… so she could be with her family. But he had two little girls to raise without her. And his parents could only carry on so long before they retired out of state.

After a ‘lifetime’ of discomfort, two more marriages, daughters grown and gone, he finally accepted that he didn’t have to live with physical pain and let the Veterans Administration help repair his hips. Who knows what mental anguish he still carried? And then too soon, he died.

🥕🥕🥕

Such a Carry On by Norah Colvin

He had no heart for foolishness. ‘What are you blubbering about? Stop carrying on. I’ll give you something to cry about,’ he’d say, unbuckling his belt. He’d never known compassion so felt no empathy. ‘Grow up. Be a man,’ he’d say, to son and daughter, both.
His strength, at first attractive, she now considered weak. It broke her freshly-opened heart when he crushed their children, infected with his unlovability. She wished their love would unlock his stone-cold heart, but the key was never found. When he passed, not one eye teared for loss, only for what they’d never had.

🥕🥕🥕

The Long March by Duane L Herrmann

My childhood was the war. My mother was the attacker. She attacked her abandonment when she was a tiny child. I was not her enemy, but just in her way. Suicidal first at two, by eleven I knew what to do. My Granma’s love saved me though, and now at seventy, I still carry on.
I made sure my children knew they were loved every day with a kiss and hug, and I let them play. I stood up to the pain of four generations. Though I’ve tottered, I’ve not gone down. Somehow I continue to carry on.

🥕🥕🥕

The Passage by Joanne Fisher

Talem was a technician. It was her job to ensure the ship’s systems remained functional. As a child, she used to like visiting the hold to see the frozen bodies. Now as an adult, she seldom visited it, and if she ever did it was to check everything was running smoothly.

She was a middle generation. There were generations before her and there would be generations after her ensuring the ship would continue to slowly move onwards to their new home, a planet Talem would never see. Yet she was essential if her species was going to carry on.

🥕🥕🥕

She’ll Carry On by Madeline Murphy

Imagine a five-year-old carrying on after her mom takes off for a long-term hospital stay due to a chronic illness. Then carries on as she takes care of that mother for the rest of her life. Twenty years into her marriage, the husband decides that maybe it’s over. The wife is shaken but carries on with her three children. Six years go by, and the eldest son dies suddenly at the age of twenty-four. She carries on with a sorrowful heart no mother should bear. One day she realizes she is a superhero with the strength to carry on.

🥕🥕🥕

Footpath Closed by Anne Goodwin

Mile by mile her mood lightens, until the signboard returns the clouds to her mind. FOOTPATH CLOSED. BRIDGE REPAIRS. FIND AN ALTERNATIVE ROUTE. She’d stamp her foot if it weren’t already aching. She can’t trudge for an extra hour.
She’ll ford the stream if there’s a shallow spot. If there’s no-one around. But that hammering isn’t a woodpecker. That whistling isn’t a starling.
The sky darkens. The foreman bars her way. She’s ready to argue when he directs her to a hidden bridge, ten minutes upstream.
She’d sought succour in solitude. She found it in kindness she didn’t deserve.

🥕🥕🥕

Carry On by Rebecca Glaessner

“Done yet?” she sighs.

I drift for a moment longer before resurfacing. I take a deep breath of ocean air, damp and organic. Did it really smell that way?

She bangs on the door, “hello?”

I cut off the simulation, my droid lifts my blackout glasses. Dark walls rush in and I blink away memories of bright blue sky. What’s the world like now?

“I’m coming in,” she flings open the door, and we start our tense dance. Pills, limb adjustments, sponge bath.

I don’t react, focusing instead on the ocean, carrying me like my body no longer could.

🥕🥕🥕

Dad by Saifun Hassam

The large kitchen, lit by the morning sun, was his dad’s favorite place to draft his adventure novels. When he hit those mushy points in his stories, he wandered into the backyard, walking among the tubs of rosemary and basil. He’d return to the cottage, ready to carry on writing.

He missed Dad. He was very grateful for the short time they were together when Jason returned to Earth from the Martian and Lunar Wars. He was broken in body and spirit. His dad’s quiet strength was essential to him, to carry on, to move forward in his life.

🥕🥕🥕

Carry On Old Friend by Bill Engleson

I was on my way home from the ceremony. Remembrance Day. Veterans Day to some. Whatever you called it, it’s about not forgetting their sacrifice.

Halfway home, as I rounded a corner, I came across him standing on the edge of the park.

“Missed you at the ceremony,” I said.

He smiled, said, ”Guess you don’t remember. I never made it home…from there.”

I looked back at him closely. He looked so young. As young as he was back in forty-three.

“I guess I forgot,” I said.

“Don’t worry,” he said. “Carry on. See ya when I see ya.”

🥕🥕🥕

Somwhere in the South China Sea by TN Kerr

Weekly ops,
somewhere in the South China Sea.
Out on Sunday,
in Saturday around 1000.

Repeat…

Somebody fucked up. I’m not one
to point fingers, but
my normal watch rotation was
six hours on / 12 hours off.

It morphed into 6 days on…

It was Thursday night, maybe 2200 GMT
Our depth – four hundred feet
the Captain slid the pocket door open
found me leaning in the inboard forward corner.

asleep…

“How long you been on watch Dad?”
“Five days,” I answered.
“Carry on,” he said, then backed out
back into the passageway
softly shutting the door.

🥕🥕🥕

Walking Wounded by D. Avery

“I’m sorry Nick’s such a dumbass about your leg Ilene.”
“Don’t you apologize for him Marge. I can handle Nick.”
“I’ll say. You’ve had him believing everything from alligator, to bear attack to chainsaw juggling.”
“Ha! Always says, ‘Really?’”
“Just tell him you lost it in Iraq; that’d be believable and it’d shut him up.”
“That’d be a lie.”
“You lie every time he asks about your leg.”
“I’m not a veteran. I could never claim to be. It was hard enough living with one.”
“Yet another man!”
“Loved that one. But I couldn’t carry on. Too many battles.”

🥕🥕🥕

Trouble Adjusting by Sue Spitulnik

During a Homefront Warriors gathering Tessa had been unusually quiet. Someone asked if she wanted to share what was troubling her.
“I’m embarrassed to admit, I’m having trouble adjusting to Michael not using his wheelchair. I know I should be thrilled he’s more mobile, but it seems with him walking everything happens faster. He’s busier now than before.”
Sally answered, “I’m hearing you say you wish he would make more time for you.”
“Perhaps that’s true.”
“I suggest you offer to join him in his activities or carry on keeping yourself busy like you had to in the past.”

🥕🥕🥕

With the Band by Michael Fishman

It had been Shawn’s dream since the first day he picked up a guitar to play in a band. So it wasn’t that he was unhappy with where he was at now, a steady gig and getting paid for making music, but the dream was more the Shawn Williams Band rather than guitar in classic rock cover band.

The house lights dimmed.

“Ladies and gentleman, give it up for “Not in Kansas Anymore”!”

The stage lights rose to mild applause. Tony’s eyes dimmed as he stepped to the microphone and started singing the lower harmony:

“Carry on, my wayward—”

🥕🥕🥕

Carry On, My Wayward Son by Nancy Brady

The phone would ring, and my son, who rarely calls, would be on the other end. “I’m being deployed,” he said. He would follow with the particulars of when, how long, his address, but never where.

Only later would I know, for sure, where my son was stationed during his time away. The first time it was Iraq for six months. The next three times it was Afghanistan even though they were shorter deployments.

For this mother, it was a time fraught with anxiety and worry. Yet, I had to carry on, counting the days until he returned home.

🥕🥕🥕

Sharing the Load by Charli Mills

The cheeky cursor blinked on the screen. The hopeful writer glanced at the time. 1:37AM. She sighed.

She squinted through the laptop’s glare without adding any words. She caressed the keys, hoping to somehow funnel inspiration from the depicted alphabet.

Unsuccessful.

She reread earlier chapters, referred to her painstakingly created outline, and suppressed another gaping yawn. She recalled Kubrick’s lead in “The Shining.” This evening, no work and no play made her novel a “dull boy.”

Her vision swam. “Fine! I’ll try again tomorrow.” She closed the laptop. “But I’m adding today’s missed words to tomorrow’s required count.”

🥕🥕🥕

Carried on the Wind by Doug Jacquier

Sounds carry on the wind,

carry in the wind,

sometimes are the wind,

deafening the soul.

Sand carries on the wind,

in the wind

and sometimes is the wind,

stripping the paint.

Tears carry on the wind,

in the wind

and sometimes are the wind,

spreading desert rain.

Hope carries on the wind,

in the wind,

and sometimes is the wind

of whispered prayers.

Tomorrow carries on the wind,

in the wind

and sometimes is the wind

of soaring birds.

Writing carries on the wind,

in the wind

and sometimes is the wind

of Heaven, and sometimes just farting.

🥕🥕🥕

Full Circle by Nancy Brady

Traveling, we see vultures
riding thermals.
Harbingers of death
circling above.

There’s road kill ahead,
probably raccoons.

Rounding the bend, though,
a turkey vulture,
Killed, with wings askew,
Caught in the act.

For those above, is it carrion instinct
to cannibalize its own?
Or is it a vigil?
Mourning the loss…
Of a mate, parent, sibling, or child?

Do they mourn as we do?
Grieving from the loss of loved ones.

They continue to circle,
Others join in.
The vigil continues.

I will never know the answers,
if they mourn as we do.

I’d like to think they do…

🥕🥕🥕

Tug-of-War by Francis the Frenchie

Gavin was several steps away from the door—already late for work—when vicious barks echoed to the end of the court. 

He turned, shoved his key into the lock, and opened the door, half-expecting to find bloodshed.

Nothing.

“What’s going on?” Gavin asked his roommate.

The roommate seemed confused, “Nothin’.”

Cotton laid on the sofa.

When Gavin reached his car’s door, it happened again. 

This time, he opened the door to the world’s most vicious game of tug-of-war between his Frenchie and roommate. Apparently, this was the norm without Gavin.

Gavin walked out, “Carry on.”

🥕🥕🥕

Water Gun Play by Ruchira Khanna

I woke up to a loud squeak.

“What’s happening?” I inquired with urgency.

I saw my children play with water guns in the house.

“No! we don’t play with squirt guns.” I disapproved while staring at the wet couch and puddles of water everywhere.

“But why, mom. It’s summertime.” they protested in unison.

I took a deep sigh as if I agreed with what they had just said, directed them outdoors.

They both looked confused since the sun was over their head.

With a grin, I said, “Carry on! Make a mess; wet all that you want; it’ll dry.”

🥕🥕🥕

Work and Play by Kerry E.B. Black

The cheeky cursor blinked on the screen. The hopeful writer glanced at the time. 1:37AM. She sighed.

She squinted through the laptop’s glare without adding any words. She caressed the keys, hoping to somehow funnel inspiration from the depicted alphabet.

Unsuccessful.

She reread earlier chapters, referred to her painstakingly created outline, and suppressed another gaping yawn. She recalled Kubrick’s lead in “The Shining.” This evening, no work and no play made her novel a “dull boy.”

Her vision swam. “Fine! I’ll try again tomorrow.” She closed the laptop. “But I’m adding today’s missed words to tomorrow’s required count.”

🥕🥕🥕

Witches’ Mushy Brews by Saifun Hassam

Will struggled with the dramatization of “King Lear.”

When his mind turned into mush while writing “Macbeth” he had gone for a late evening walk in the forest. In a clearing he saw three witches, stirring a noxious brew. Entranced by their chanting, Will’s story about murder most foul, fell into place.

Maybe he’d find those three sorceresses again. There! In the clearing, he saw the witches. The witches ignored him. “Carry on,” they cackled to each other.

Carry on, he muttered. The aroma of wolf’s bane awoke him. The play crystallized in his mind. Carry on, he cried!

🥕🥕🥕

Carry On by Kathy 70

t may just be time to carry on, not sure, my life feels like it’s a state of limbo, not here nor there just is. How do you move on from years being completely motionless and no place in sight to recover. Carry on.

What do I need to carry, my history, my future, my family? Carry on.

If I am not ready what’s my outcome. Left alone. Stay behind. Lie down.

Don’t you cry or sleep. Carry on.

Pack it in. Carry on.

Time to lead the way for others to follow. Carry on.

No choices. Carry on.

🥕🥕🥕

Riding Heard by D. Avery

“Kid, is it true Ernie an’ Pepe are workin’ on a anti-frazzlement product?”
“Yep. They wanna make somethin’ ta hep folks carry on an’ keep their thinkin’ straight.”
“Better not be along the lines a Ernie’s Green Garden Gummies. Thet candy ain’t a cure.”
“Relax, Pal. Aussie steered ‘em in a dif’rent direction. They’re workin’ with a gizmo kin connect ta the whole wide world.”
“A computer?”
“Yep. There’s some pitfalls, but push the right buttons ya end up unfrazzled.”
“Ya end up unfrazzled? Where ‘zactly d’ya end up?”
“Carrot Ranch! Among good friends.”
“Hear, hear!”
“Here yer heard.”

🥕🥕🥕

With A Little Help From Our Friends by D. Avery

“Hold on Kid. Computers has been aroun’ fer quite a while. So has the World Wide Web. Pepe an’ Ernie ain’t invented nuthin’.”
“No, but Aussie helped ‘em discover somethin’. Fact is, Aussie’s helped a lotta folks find Carrot Ranch, made ‘em feel ta home here. Reckon she’s been a real pillar.”
“Cain’t argue thet. But Shorty broke ground here. Put up the barns an’ bunkhouse an’ all.”
“Yep.”
“Planted the carrots, stocked the cookhouse.”
“Yep.”
“Put out the invites.”
“Yep, promptly, more or less.”
“So Shorty’s carryin’ on, creatin’ her own solutions.”
“Yep. She’s on the write path.”

🥕🥕🥕

Film Fest

You never know what to expect from the film fest.

Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

True Grit Shift (Part I) by D. Avery

“Pal, this fella’s here ta make a film.”
“Yes, I want to capture the true-grit work of ranching.”
“Thet so?”
“Says he wants ta see real cattle. Ya know, fer the moo-vie.”
“Well, there’s some longhorns from an earlier prompt. An’ unicorns a course. See Mister we don’t zactly wrangle cattle here.”
“What kind of a ranch is this?”
“This here’s a virtual ranch. We wrangle words. But if’n ya got a flash cam’ra, mebbe ya kin catch thet on film.”
“Don’t you have roundups?”
“Sure. Ever week. Shorty roun’s up ever’one’s stories.”
“This is unreal!”
“Thet’s ‘bout right.”

🥕🥕🥕

At Eleven by D. Avery

“Phew. LeGume here?”
“Was, Pal, but now he’s gone with his wind. Went ta check on Ernie, who’s been in a bit of a space odyssey from his gardenin’ an’ bakin’. Where’s that film fella at?”
“He was wundrin’ an’ wand’rin’, lookin’ fer inspiration when Frankie stumbled inta him. I said somethin’ ‘bout her havin’ a good eye, an’ he asked her ta take him ‘roun the ranch ta see the sights.”
“What a sight. Hope she ain’t leadin’ him in circles.”
“She’s got Burt.”
“What hoss’s the film fella on?”
“Blackjack.”
“It’ll be a must-see film.”

🥕🥕🥕

Two Aliens Walk into a Theater by Joanne Fisher

“This is what humans call cinema. This should inform us about their society.” Blarg said.

“Yes it’s a good way to find out more about them.” Krenut agreed as they sat down. After the film began the two of them watched in mounting alarm.

“These humans are dangerous! One of them walked into living quarters with a large chopping implement and began to dismember others with it!” Blarg said.

“Yes they seem rather bloodthirsty, but we must watch more before we report back.” Krenut replied. He put aside the booklet with the title: The Fifth International Horror Film Festival.

🥕🥕🥕

Grandy’s Last Stand by Liz Husebye Hartmann

The storage closet was packed with slides, cellulose family movies, and photo albums (these last, at least, were sorted and labeled).

If Daniel and sister Alora wanted to see any of their grandfather’s estate, these mementos were to be magicked into a film in six months. Per Grandy’s will, the theater’d been rented, to coincide with the Regional film festival, all expenses to be paid from the estate for family attending the full week.

Both had student loans to pay. Rolling up their sleeves, they got cracking with the arrangements. They would’ve done it anyway, had they been asked.

🥕🥕🥕

Take Me Back by Michael Fishman

Tin film canisters. Messy handwriting on faded masking tape offers no clue to origins or contents.

Spliced haphazardly when transferred to video, we’re modern-day time travelers. First watching baby’s first steps. Then a mother’s sweet 16. There’s Ben and Bunny’s 40th anniversary. Back to a baby’s first bath in a kitchen sink.

Someone’s swimming in a motel pool. Thanksgiving dinner. Who’s that playing cards? Children in birthday hats laughing at a clown. They’re getting married. He’s proud in cap and gown.

Lives–
Lived.
Gone.
Missed.

They’re not much, these old films, but I watch and savor their faded memories.

🥕🥕🥕

Matty’s Virtual Film Fest by Anne Goodwin

Their flu sweeps England like their dastardly Armada. Matty must emerge from retirement to help raise morale. Her recitals would banish fear and despondency, but cinemas and theatres are closed.

The new maid suggests a solution. In a screen that is also a camera, and no bigger than a book. They can film without film and project without a projector, beaming directly to each separate device. In her ninety-nine years, Matty has never heard the like.

The girl directs. Matty performs.

No-one edits. Will evil seep out somehow to infect the audience watching blithely from the confines of home?

🥕🥕🥕

The Dream by Nancy Brady

It seemed like the worst week in Alicia’s short life. Nothing went right, and she was depressed.

Returning home, Alicia skipped dinner, chugged her sleeping tablets with wine, conked out, and began to dream.

Alicia received an invitation to a private film festival; the limo arrived minutes later.

Swiftly, Alicia was transported to a darkened theater. The film showed scenes from her life, both good and bad. She was surprised that she had made an impact on other people, changing their lives.

Alicia awoke with a changed attitude. She might have bad days, but her life was worth living.

🥕🥕🥕

Theatre of Memories by Hugh W. Roberts

Why does a visit to the LGBT film festival bring sadness and tears to Richard?

•••

“What’s the matter? Why are you crying?” whispered Adrian to his husband.

“I can’t help it,” sobbed Richard. “This LGBT film festival brings us lots to smile about, and when you see what we’re viewing on the screen right now, I can’t help but think about the times when, as a young boy, I cried myself to sleep because I thought I was all alone in this world.”

Looking around the theatre, Adrian witnessed evidence of tears and popcorn. Looking up at the screen, he squeezed Richard’s hand tight and watched the story unfold in front of the world.

🥕🥕🥕

Another’s Eyes by Rebecca Glaessner

I stride past the doorman. Find my seat.

The AI Film Fest, biggest event of the century, filled every stadium worldwide.

Murmuring, we navigate invisible NeuralNet login gateways.

Then we’re in. A hush falls.

AI generated scenes fill every human’s mind. Eyes closed, vision infinite. A collective gasp. The scope is immense, incomprehensible, story after story driven by no discernable characters.

So much beauty.

Standing ovations and bleary-eyed grins are shared the world over.

Outside, the world’s a different hue. Lighter. Hopeful.

The doorman thanks each of us with more sincerity than I’ve ever known.

His badge reads filmmaker.

🥕🥕🥕

The Oodnagalahbi Fillum Festival by Doug Jaquier

Gazza had always pronounced ‘film’ as fillum, so it came as no surprise when he organised the Oodnagalahbi Fillum Festival and its associated event, the Fillem Food Fantasia. The Fillum Festival featured the world premieres of two blockbusters, ‘Mad Max and his beaut ute’ and ‘Killer Roos’. People and animals came from miles around, including more red kelpies than you could yell ‘get up’ to. After the fillums finished, it was time to hoe into the Food Fantasia, including sweet and sour popcorn, peanut butter choc top ice-creams, and salted yabbie and vinegar chips. Pity the beer ran out.

🥕🥕🥕

1936 Hull Crossing Film Festival by Denise DeVries

The moment Sarabell Simms heard that Pete Brown Jr. came back home with movie camera, she started planning a film festival. Never mind that the young man avoided her calls and never met her eyes at choir practice. Persistence would pay off.
Finally, she wrote a play starring his younger sister Nettie. “Imagine a film version!” she said.
“It’s not a sound camera,” he replied.
“I have a recording machine. And your parents would be so proud.”
“Poor, naive Little Pete,” everyone said, “he’s been away too long.”

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TheValley of Spirit by Chel Owens

They’d warned her about Old Adavndo Valley. Locals, etched in lines of wisdom’s dust, shook their heads slowly. Raised a hand. Or a crooked finger.

“Don’t,” they said, “Disturb the dead.”

She brushed them off. Turned away.

“An’ don’,” they added, “Film nothin’ ’bout yourself…”

But she was Alda Evenfeld, two-times winner of the Fergus Film Festival. No age-worn, brain-worn superstitions stood against book-worn, theatre-worn critics.

Still, fans later reflected, what a tragic coincidence. Late opening night; neighbors, drawn in moonlight, found the shell of Ms. Evenfeld. Exactly as her film’s protagonist lay. With the same scare-worn, dusty face.

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Film Flam? By JulesPaige

The small town boasted that unique films would be shown. Not quite a film festival. But classic noir, independent and other short films would be on the screen in the barn that was turned into the viewing room. The flat floor and folding chairs were the least of the obstacles. It was a challenge to find a seat with a good view. And the acoustics weren’t great either. Dad always said you get what you pay for.

die hard fans
deal with obstacles
its their choice

The room was cold. Couldn’t hear, or see. This place wasn’t for me.

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The Best Birthday Ever by Sue Spitulnik

Tessa inspected the birthday card sentiment, printed hotel confirmation, flowers, and film festival tickets. She was smiling but tears were ready to run down her cheeks.
Michael came up beside her, wrapped an arm around her waist, and kissed her cheek. “I thought you would enjoy going to the film festival.”
“I’m thrilled, because I didn’t think you would even consider it.”
“Now that I’m out of that wheelchair we can enjoy ideal seats which makes it worth going.”
“I think you’ve given us both very special gifts.”
“I’m happy it’s you I’ll be walking next to.”
“Thank you.”

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The Lost Love Film Festival by Bill Engleson

Delbert Waverly never recovered from the loss of his first love.
He was six.
Lorraine Petski was seven.
They spent Grade One together…with thirty-two others.
And Miss Campbell, of course.
Then the Petski’s moved away.
Far away.
Further than a six-year-old could find.
Eventually, Delbert went to a therapist.
Out of that came the suggestion to create a Lost Love Film Festival.
“Delbert,” the therapist noted, you are one of many. Including me. What say we seek out those who have lost loves, ask them to film their heartbreak, and, voilà, have a film festival?”
“Your nuts,” said Delbert.

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Reel Deal (Part I) by D. Avery

The guys from the shop noted that the El Camino was not in front of their new favorite pub. Neither was Marge Small’s pickup.
“Where’s Marge, Nard?”
“Movies.”
“Movies? On beer night?”
“Nick, Nick, Nick, every night is beer night.”
“Yeah, but this is Friday friggin beer night. What’s got into Marge?”
“That big goomer she wrestled with here last Friday, that’s what.”
“Marge likes guys?”
“She likes this one.”
“But. We don’t know him.”
“He’s actually taller than Marge. And. That El Camino? His.”
“Oh. Okay then. Nard?”
“Yeah?”
“I pity the movie goers sitting behind those two.”

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Reel Deal (Part II) by D. Avery

Ernest agreed with Marge that her truck would be more comfortable than his El Camino so she drove to the movie theatre. Ernest went to get Marge’s door for her but was too slow.
Though sore where his date’s truck door struck him, Ernest Biggs felt special buying tickets for two and escorting Marge Small into the theater. All eyes were on this stunning couple, each tall and of ample girth.
Marge agreed with Ernest that TV at his place would be more comfortable than the theatre. Marge got the door for Ernest who held their buckets of popcorn.

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Film Fest by FloridaBorne

I stood outside the glass windows to whisper… “Why?”

Uncomfortable inside my best dress, I looked around at people with suits costing more than my wardrobe. Conversations around me were a façade hiding flesh, bone, humanity… anything to believe they were better.

I wondered at these beings avid in their discussion as to what the nuances meant. Disgusted, I began to stray.

“Where are you going?” My 3rd husband asked. “We haven’t discussed…”

“…the fact that we paid twenty apiece to watch this horribly boring story?”

Laughter turned my husband’s eyes into obsidian. I walked toward an honest tomorrow.

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Changing Colors by Reena Saxena

The dress is sewed and put together with care over a period of six months. Her mother picks up unusual items for creative placement as embellishments. The last one is supposed to be a fresh flower picked on the morning of the gala event.

She looks at it wistfully, and wonders if it will qualify for the red carpet moment in her life – walking behind the actress holding the train of her gown.

“The carpet is going green this year to promote sustainable fashion.”

“And nothing can be greener than this dress..” Her mother’s smile is triumphant. 

Winners all…

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Film Fest Debut by Charli Mills

Whiskers tickled Barnyard Betsy’s arm. She patted her lead horse, Magic, her hand shaking. Two country souls about to debut at a big city film festival. BB had never attended a “fest,” but this movie was different. An independent documentary. Instead of her horses acting, a filmmaker caught the relationship between movie wrangler and herd. The promoters wanted BB and Magic to meet movie-goers. Terrified she’d have to put on one of those sparkling sausage casings of a dress, she was relieved they liked her idea of looking authentically Nevadan. The crowd roared when Magic pooped on the carpet.

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The SeaBright Newsletter, July 2019 by Saifun Hassam

“In July, Port SeaBright was overflowing with visitors from nearby cities and the Bright Archipelago. It was time for the annual Marine Habitat Festival, including yacht parades and races, scrumptious seafood, and the Fisheries and Habitats Film Festival.

This year, the topic was Future Marine Habitats. Director Julia Tremontaine warmly welcomed everyone. Futuristic films and models by amateurs and professionals drew a lot of attention, about how people could live on the sea, in catastrophic climate changes. The star of the festival was a Coast Guard cutter, transformed by talented imaginative college students into a greenhouse and aquaculture habitat.”

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O My Goodness by Annette Rochelle Aben

Shannon started the Indie Artist Group for opportunities to get amazing, unique works of art into the hands of those who might never see them otherwise.
The entire group was excited, their art was going to be part of goodie bags handed out at The Sundance Film Festival that year! Some made jewelry, others painted pictures and some designed cards.
Shannon hosted their table in the celebrity lounge with a broad smile and hearty handshake. She was cool and calm greeting celebrities but nothing prepared her to meet the person who asked for an extra bag for Oprah Winfrey!

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Film Fest by Robert Kirkendall

The writer was checking his emails then saw one from a film festival competition where he had submitted a screenplay. Probably just another rejection, he thought, bad news can wait.

He scrolled down the list of other emails, but the one from the film festival kept gnawing at him and he he couldn’t wait anymore. He went back to the film festival email, opened it, and was surprised to see that his screenplay, a comedy about a man trying to escape Santa Cruz, had moved onto the next round in the competition. Wow, he thought, good news for once.

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Film Fest by Jane Aguiar

I was invited for the Film Festival and my film “Bejababdar” was selected. It was a superhit regional short film. I did not have the confidence to communicate in English so I sat in one corner.

Suddenly, the anchor mentioned the names of Best Films and Best Actresses. He called the film “Bejababdar” ” irresponsible” and my name “Garland of Diamonds” instead of “Ratnamala”.

He spoke in English so even though my film and I were selected, I remained silent and seated. When everyone looked at me and began clapping, I realized that my selection was due to my “irresponsibility”.

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Wacky Films by Madeline Murphy

Mia was bursting with joy! Creating a film about her grandparents had culminated in a spot at the Film Festival. The category was Female Film Directors. Short on time, she had asked cousin Andy to submit the film.

They sat in the front row for the screening. Mia opened her program and searched for her film in the listing. Popcorn cascaded over Andy’s head. Mia’s film was under Weird and Wacky!

“Grrrr, run NOW!” Said Mia

“Your film is about their lives as comedians. Right?” Said Andy.

“Yes, they were hilarious,” said Mia. “And, you’re lucky I love you.”

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The Little Tittweaking Film Festival by Geoff Le Pard

Little Tittweaking nestled in the bosom of the countryside, happily anonymous. When Colonel Daub Byzantine retired to the old vicarage, he and Maple Byzantine hoped to join a lively community. They were wrong.
‘What shall we do?’
‘A film festival. Everyone can make their own.’
The other residents weren’t sure, but mucking in was expected.
‘Just supply your films by the closing date. We’ll do the rest.’
It was therefore with some surprise that the Byzantines received the entry forms covered in a variety of dusts, condensations and mucuses .
‘Not everyone sees films like you do, Daub,’ lamented Maple.

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Ten Days Clean by Donna Matthews

I’m picking my niece up at the airport for the weekend. She’s been having a hard time, my sister said. A hard time in high school – hanging out with the wrong crowd kind of hard. Shhh…I chide myself. Take responsibility and own this. She IS the wrong crowd, just like me. She jumps in the car, cigarette smoke still clinging to her sweatshirt.

“Auntie!” she exclaims.

“What’s it gonna be? Concert? That film festival at the Woodlands Pavillion? I’m getting so wasted!”

“I was thinking a meeting.”

” A what?”

” An AA meeting…I’m ten days clean today.”

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Silent Flim Fest by Duane L Herrmann

I took a friend to a silent film festival. He’d never been to one. After the first film he checked his phone messages. There were none. Odd: no phone calls, no messages all day. It was a replacement phone. He’d been told data from the old would be transferred to the new. He found that had not happened. He missed a call from his parole officer. Because my friend had not showed up for a sudden meeting, he was reported as “abscounded” and a warrant went out for his arrest. His brief freedom was over – technology never fails.

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Unwary by C. E. Ayr

These back streets are dangerous places for the unwary.
Her heels click rhythmically as she hurries home from the late-night film festival.
She is suddenly aware that she is being followed.
Her pursuer is closing rapidly.
She knows there have been a series of vicious attacks on women in the area.
She cannot run in this tight skirt.
She stops, backs against a wall.
He leers knowingly, reaches for her blouse.
He doesn’t even see her NAA Guardian pistol before the bullet passes through his left eye into his brain.
These back streets are dangerous places for the unwary.

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Leaving’ A Trail (Part I) by D. Avery

“Ain’t seen ya at any a the film showin’s Kid. Have ya least checked out the trailers?”
“Trailers? Them film folks is campin’ out?”
“Not camper trailers. Movie trailers. Kinda like a visual blurb, get ya innerested in a film.”
“No time fer any a that Pal. Saloons don’t run themselves ya know. Well, ‘cept when Chel and Colleen take the reins.”
“Yep, some fine poetry servin’s then. How’s the Author’s Chair?”
“Got a couple a great writers lined up fer November an’ December. Hope folks come by second Mondays ta engage an’ ask the authors ‘bout their writin’.”

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Leaving’ A Trail (Part II) by D. Avery

“Yep, the saloon stage is fer the entire Carrot Ranch Literary Community. Folks kin take a seat in the Author’s Chair, kin be innerviewed, or even have their characters come in fer a chat. Jist ‘bout anythin’ goes at the Saddle Up.”
“Zactly. If someone has a idea or a hankerin’ ta take the stage all they have ta do is run it by our writer D. Avery.”
First Mondays– Anyone Can Poem with Chel Owens
Second Mondays– Author’s Chair volunteer
Third Monday– Double Ennead Challenge with Colleen Chesebro
Fourth Monday– Interviews & Showcasing
Fifth Monday– Photo Flash Challenge

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Candy Kitchen

Stories for your sweet tooth.

Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

The Candy Heart of Revision by Christy Gard

Walk-in. Look around. Breathe deep. Run your fingers over the glass jars. You know these sensations. They are familiar friends that have been with you for many years. Most of the candies on the shelf are made of memories of years past. See that chunk of chocolate on the counter? Whisper to it. Twist its shape to your desire. Rearrange the saltwater taffy into rows that make sense. Do what you know you can do. This is your candy kitchen. Here you have the power to shape the candies into things of beauty if you just believe in yourself.

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One Sweet Sorority by Roger Shipp

Her eyes beckoned me with that come-hither look.

I confidently stood (at least I was trying to exude assertiveness). Untucking my polo from my stone-washed khakis (I watch the commercials; all the cool guys wear their shirttails on the outside) I boldly stepped away from the row of chairs that sadly lined the dance floor’s wall.

Just my luck. This radiant goddess was joined with three other voluptuous knock-outs.

She reached to take my hand.

“I’m Candy Cane.” She gracefully gestured around. “Kit Katrine, Almond Joylensky, and Twix Barac.

“Sweet,” I responded.

I could feel my blood sugar rising.

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Candy Kitchen by C. E. Ayr

The front door is unlocked, so I step inside.
Are you there, Candy?
Kitchen, she replies. And shut the door, Roger’s dead.
Roger’s her husband.
Well, was, apparently.
I stand gazing open-mouthed round the blood-drenched kitchen.
I’m not really surprised that she murdered him, he was such an irritating wee turd.
I sigh and shake my head, lift my arms in a what-are-we-going-to-do-now sort of gesture.
Some mess, eh? Candy says, calm as ever.
I turn and see her smiling at me over her shoulder.
She’s at the sink, rinsing the carving-knife.
There’s wine in the fridge, she says.

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Outsiders Deserve Chocolate Too by Rebecca Glaessner

Candy’s small kitchen sits outside the CityDomes. Her rare chocolates conjure hidden queues of children every morning. They grin as she hands each their single piece then hurries them on.

A commotion draws Candy’s attention to the front. The kids quieten. She retreats.

A man’s tossing shelves in the dark. He looks weak, but her overlay reveals otherwise.

She’s got strength mods too, except, hers are hidden better.

He spots her and grins.

She brings him down quick, arm tight around his throat, his arm twisted behind. He struggles, then falls silent.

Candy returns soon after, smiling, “who’s next?”

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Sour Grapes? by JulesPaige

The Candy shops’ new owners were not aware that just down the block lived Stingy Jack. The man rarely came in and when he did, he was frank about just wanting the smallest of pieces. Only Eve from the kitchen knew him better. But she would never repeat that she noticed his raw pain. She remembered seeing him with a happy grin – that was when his wife was alive.

His Mrs. was the owner of the shop. One eve, before Halloween – through the kitchen door – a burglar. Just wanting coffee ended up taking her life. Jack died then too.

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Oh, the Horror by Michael Fishman

Despite all the sinister ghoulishness of Halloween, the day isn’t about costumes or trick or treating to me. Even though I have fond memories of my folks turning the garage into a haunted house one year, Halloween for me is horror movies. And not modern horror movies that leave nothing to the imagination, but the good horror movies*.

Ok. Halloween is also about candy and I can’t resist those snack-sized bags of candy. Bags and bags that fill my cabinets and turn my kitchen into a candy kitchen.

Danger!

Stay away!

Sorry trick-or-treaters, the candy’s all mine, Mine, MINE!

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Divided by a Common Language by Anne Goodwin

People often asked for directions to Wordsworth’s grave, but this was a first. “There’s a soup kitchen in Barrow.” Where tourists never go.
“Not soup. Candy!”
“What kind of candy where you were after?” Was he blind? Her shelves heaved with glass jars: aniseed balls; sherbet lemons; sarsaparilla drops. Stacks of Romney’s Kendal Mint Cake.
“It’s made on the premises.”
“There’s a chocolatier in Orton.” Miles away.
“Is it the famous one? Established in 1854?”
She sent him to Sarah Nelson’s. Grasmere gingerbread was renowned the world over. Neither bread, cake, nor biscuit. Call it candy if you will.

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Grandpa Holds Out by Doug Jacquier

‘Grandpa, can I have a soda?’

‘No, Jayddyynn, I only have soft drink. You may have some of that.’

Jayddyynn’s eyes roll and he follows with ‘Grandpa, can I have a cookie?’

‘No, but you may have a biscuit.’

‘Grandpa, have you seen my cellphone?’

‘Yes, you showed it to me once. If you mean do I know where it is right now, the answer is perhaps I might know where your mobile phone is located.’

‘Grandpa, you’re the weirdest person I know. Do you have any candy?

‘Jayddyynn, you know very well this is a no candy kitchen.’

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Ranch Candy by Charli Mills

Red paint smeared across a box flap declared, “Bailey’s Candiey Kichun.” Jolene eyed the boss’s daughter who’d set up shop on the cookshack table. The crew sauntered in, and Bailey explained confections and prices. Bittersweet chocolate chunks sprinkled with dried garlic. A dime. Butter rolled in coffee grounds. A quarter. Balls of bread softened in pickle juice. A nickel. Change and delicacies exchanged hands.

Bailey wiped the table and gathered her mama’s plates. “Well, ain’t you gonna eat your candy?”

Hank said, “Jolene don’t like us eatin’ sweets ‘fore breakfast.” Everyone nodded vigorously.

“Why, Hank Barret, that ain’t so.”

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Marshmallow Waves by Norah Colvin

The cooks bustled about my kitchen making sweets to gift.
“I love homemade gifts,” she said.
“Especially when we get to share,” he said, sampling largish crumbs of fudge and coconut ice.
“Marshmallow is amazing,” she said. It mixes up so light and fluffy,”
“What’s in it?”
“Sugar, water and gelatine.”
“What’s gelatine?” he asked.
I dared not tell the vegetarians, but he searched for information on his phone.
“We can’t eat that,” he spluttered. “Gelatine’s made from animal bones!”
The marshmallow mix, so light and fluffy, was binned. Not even a taste for me, although I’m not vegetarian.

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Taking It In (Part I) by D. Avery

When the bread crumbs disappeared, Hansel and Gretel had no choice but to press on. And why follow a trail back to where they were unwanted? Hungering for a loving home, hungering for a mother, hungering also in their tight bellies, they were not wary when they found the candy house. Surely the smiling crone was kindly and sweet.
But the bone littered kitchen was the heart of this house. Hansel was a caged bird, his hungry heart drumming fear.
Gretel saw it all. To this day she recalls that crone as she bakes bread for her own children.

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Taking It In (Part II) by D. Avery

Nibbling on candy in that greasy kitchen, they planned their next move.
“We can’t go back Gretel. She’s turned father against us.”
But Gretel, standing tall in the face of what she had done, told Hansel they would return. “We have food and treasures from the old crone. We’ll be let in.”
Even before seeing the treasure their father welcomed them back and begged their forgiveness. He told them their stepmother, sweating feverishly and gasping for breath, had died.
The children grew. Gretel became a strong and gentle woman, ever wary of what a person might be capable of.

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The Stepmother Speaks by D. Avery

We’re both still so hungry but I don’t send him hunting in the woods. Not yet. 

I thought I had married a strong man, one who would provide for me, but look at him. He sits and stares, dumbly kneading the boy’s bag of white pebbles, sounding like rattling bones to my ear.  

‘They had to be sent away’ I remind him. ‘There isn’t enough.’

He saw their mother in their eyes, I know. And now they’re gone he still doesn’t look at me, for he’s seen me and knows I’ll never be enough.

We’re both still so hungry. 

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Happily Ever After by Liz Husebye Hartmann

They could’ve gone to the right
To the tidy brown cottage in the ring of aspens,
Goat nibbling happily on the turf roof.
It had reminded them of home.

But they went left.
To the gingerbread house with the candy kitchen.
Blood-red door, vanilla frosting dripping from the eaves,
Fencing made of gingerbread children.

They’d been lost in the woods for ever so long.
The crow could tell you how it all came out.
But it’s not what you’d expect.
The children were canny, the witches kind.
They were all from the same family,
So deep within the woods.

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Candy-Coloured Rage by Hugh W. Roberts

Why has anger and rage engulfed Richard? Is he to blame for his actions?

***

He loved everything about the house except the candy-coloured kitchen.

Moving through the rooms, Richard destroyed everything in his path, keeping the best until last. His fists did all the work like giant metal balls on the end of chains that swang and knocked down old buildings.

Upon reaching the candy-coloured kitchen, his rage and anger peaked. Moments later, silence surrounded the house until the sound of sobbing interrupted his discernment of achievement.

“What have you done?” sobbed his six-year-old sister.

“If Daddy won’t let me play with your dolls’ house, then nor can you,”” a wide-eyed Richard yelled.

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Sweet Dreams by Bill Engleson

Jean had been raised in a very spartan family.

“No fun, we absolutely have no fun,” she told me the day we first met at Woolworths.

They had a little coffee shop down in the lower section as many of those old-time department stores had.

She ordered a chocolate shake.

Three chocolate shakes.

“I’ve heard of them,” she said. “Always wanted one.”

“You have three,” I said.

“I know. There is so much more that I want. That I’ve never had before.”

“The good life?”

“Yes! A sugar bed, fudge furniture, candy kitchen, and a chocolate shake house.”

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Candy Maker by Duane L Herrmann

In high school I took the first “Boy’s Foods” class. Not because I wanted to; I had been involved with cooking at home from about four and had to reach over my head, past the flames, to stir something I could not see. But, my best friend wanted to take the class and wanted someone to go with him. So I did. The only thing I learned was to make caramel candy. For the rest of my high school years, that was my speciality. Unlike at school, though, I could use real cream. The candy melted in your mouth.

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Memories by Saifun Hassam

My mom and aunts had fond memories of candy stores, whose owners actually made candy in the kitchen in the back of the stores. The candy kitchens had vanished as supermarkets sprang up, selling candy manufactured in remote factories from around the world.

On hot humid days, a whiff of licorice would drift up from the plants growing along the patio. The mingled fragrances of wild honeysuckle and mint somehow drew those memories from the dark recesses of my mind. I could taste peppermint candy, green stripes on white. Peppermint patties, coveted only because of their thick dark chocolate.

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Ethel M by FloridaBorne

I first entered an Ethel M candy store in 1988, at high-end San Rafael mall, where the best dark chocolate coconut candy on Earth awaited.

I was living north of San Francisco at the time, traveling 25 miles to work near the Marina, and passing San Rafael to sit in a traffic jam. If you’ve never watched the incredible sunrise over a San Francisco fog, you won’t understand why I looked forward to being stuck on the Golden Gate Bridge for 20 minutes.

Ethel M still exists. Like California, I can no longer afford to live within that dream.

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Sweet Traditions by Ann Edall-Robson

She lived close to her childhood home, and the drive unless the weather said otherwise, could easily be made in a few hours. Her mom had telephoned to say it was time for a weekend bake and make for Christmas. Spending the weekend helping to create holiday goodies would be a treat after the gruelling hours preparing her latest book to send to the beta readers. Opening the door to her parent’s kitchen the aroma of Peanut Brittle and Peppermint Patties announced the candy production line had started. A sampling of both had her taste buds doing a jig.

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Candy Making Day by Sue Spitulnik

Tessa’s mother had made homemade holiday treats for as long as Michael could remember. His mouth watered thinking about them. Recently his clunky wheelchair and inability to reach things kept him from helping during production. Not this year.
When Michael walked into the candy kitchen, Jenny did a double-take but didn’t comment as she smiled up at him. At the end of the day, they had made chocolate and maple-walnut fudge, peppermint patties, and peanut brittle.
Michael was beaming. “Guess I’ve been missing a lot by not standing.”
Jenny hugged his solid torso. “‘Bout time you figured that out.”

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Evolutionary Journeys by Reena Saxena

It is like getting to know them all over again, when they visit in the holidays – the long phone calls and FaceTime chats notwithstanding.

Reality strikes hard. It’s not enough to know what they are eating or wearing. I don’t know what goes through their minds in the interim phase, and what journeys they are on to reach a different place.

They are adults with a life story of their own. Lego blocks do not a life make, and chocolate is nor the only sweetness in life.

The candy kitchen alone won’t suffice – my kids have grown up now.

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The Last Divinity by Denise DeVries

Kate Meade’s divinity was known throughout Hull Crossing, and everyone wanted to be on her Christmas list. Only the notoriously gossipy Bird sisters were privy to her secret recipe, and the most they would say was, “it’s not cream of tartar.” Then one year, Daphne Brown received an emergency call to deliver another dozen eggs to the boarding house. The divinity had fallen. “And would you happen to have any buttermilk?”
Suddenly she understood. “No … I hear vinegar works.”
Kate Meade’s sobs carried over the phone line. “I just tried that.”
Two divinities fell in Hull Crossing that Christmas.

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Nooooooooo! by Donna Matthews

The dentist eyes me from behind her mask…eyebrows raised and with glee, “Looks like we have a bad tooth!”

Words like full of decay, root canal, maybe insurance will cover, another appointment, etc., come tumbling out next. I’m nodding, but inside, I’m in a panic.

“Nooooooooo!” My inner voice, childlike in its despair, wails. Because here’s the deal… I LOVE candy. Everything about it. All shapes, sizes, textures. I could’ve had a career…a confectioner in a candy kitchen! Yes!

Waking from my sweet reverie, I realize she’s staring at me.

“I’m sorry? What?”

“Cut out the candy, okay?”

“Nooooooooo!”

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And Eat It Too (Part I) by D. Avery

“Kid?! What’s with all this candy? Kitchen’s a mess.”
“I’m a mess, Pal. Workin’ things out through culinary art.”
“Well Shorty says cake’s always a good beginning to a fine ending. But what else is goin’ on with this cake?”
“This pile of chocolate covered pretzel sticks is a beaver lodge. An’ here’s a pretzel dam mudded over with chocolate. This here, with the V out behind it in the blue icing, that’s a beaver, see the black licorice tail?”
“I see it Kid. And this one with the skinny little tail?”
“Made outta pink licorice— that’s my Curly.”

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And Eat It Too (Part II) by D. Avery

“Kid, shouldn’t ya be tendin’ ta yer literary art? Mebbe writin’ yersef a encouragin’ letter?”
“I don’t think so Pal.”
“Come on Kid. Time ta run with the wolves. Or at least the Writers”
“Cain’t focus on anythin’ Pal, not with my puglet out swimmin’ with the beavers.”
“As Dylan sang, If pigs swim free, why not me?, or somethin’ like thet. Curly’s embraced her inner beaver, bravin’ new waters. It’s inspirin’.”
“Cain’t git over my puglet flyin’ the coop.”
“‘Ain’t no excuse ta chicken outta writin’, Kid. Heck, pigs’ve flown b’fore at Carrot Ranch! Anythin’s possible.”
“Reckon so.”

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Embrace the Mud

Ready to get muddy?

Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

Zen and the Muddle by Jack Keaton

I took my dog, Vivian, out for her morning walk yesterday. Halfway through, she lunged towards another canine across the street. I lost my balance and stepped into a deep mud puddle.

I got angry at Vivian, but it’s on me; I trained her poorly. As the walk continued, I was reminded of what a yoga teacher said at the end of each practice: “May you live like the lotus, at home in the muddy water.”

I often wish I could be like that lotus. But it’s a process, and sometimes a muddy shoe prevents you from achieving Zen.

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Jackpot by Frank James

“That’s a winner!” The warden yelled as Zeke pulled his giant carrot from the muddy soil. Inmate Zeke grew vegetables for the prison kitchen. His enormous crops became a bedrock for prison life. Zeke also saw mud as freedom. The garden taught him farming and self-worth. It represented responsibility for feeding others. Something he never had.
The garden bolstered desire to change his future. The muck became the foundation for his life. The warden ratified this after taking his carrot to the state fair, returning with a blue ribbon and parole papers.

The warden shook his hand, “Success awaits.”

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Mud and Laughter by Sue Spitulnik

Any mud puddle was a golden find when I was a boy. Pictures prove it.
I ended my best high school football game, covered in mud, gleefully holding the winning ball.
I ran miles in Army basic training. Good memories flowed while cleaning mud off my boots.
My Army duties took away time for mud and then my legs.
I rebelled against the prosthetics, preferring a wheelchair.
Waterproof metal legs got my attention. I had to admit they would increase my mobility.
When Jester and I purposely run through sloppy mud puddles, my inner child comes alive with laughter.

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Kidnapped by Simon Prathap D

I aimed at my friend with handful of mud.
A strange girl got hit.
I ran to her and helped to clear off the mud.
You look better now. I said
Not beautiful? She asked innocently
Beautiful too, I blushed.
She left her phone unlocked.
It’s me? I asked surprised.
Full of you, my phone loves you, just like my heart does.
Are you…..?
Yes, I’m in love with you.
I blushed even more.
Stop blushing, or else I’ll kidnap you right here, she said.
If you are my kidnapper, I’ll keep blushing.
She kidnapped me, as she promised.

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A Muddy Conclusion by Norah Colvin

“It’s just mud. It’ll wash off.”

“But it’s everywhere. Those children are unruly. My children would never —”

“And where are your children now?”

“Hmpff!” said the neighbour, stomping home, muttering about impudence, inconsideration and downright rudeness. “You haven’t heard the last of this.”

“Come on,” said the mother. “Let’s get you and the fence cleaned up.”

With buckets, brushes and rags, the children washed the fence. When it was done, they turned on each other. “Bullseye! Got you!” They tussled and tumbled. Laughter filled the air.

The neighbour glowered at the mud-covered children. “Well, I never,” she said.

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Still Standing by Missy Lynne

“Well at least I can shower myself now,” she said as she stood in front of the mirror staring at the jagged scars that ran across her chest. Suddenly realizing all that she had overcome. She had been mutilated for the good of her health, rendered temporarily helpless, and exposed to endless pain. But here she was. Scars healed. Still standing. And no, things would not be the same but she was determined to make them better than before. She would step into this new life fresh and free from burden and live in constant rejoicing of everyday forward.

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Facedown in the Mud by Charli Mills

Max howled when her ankle buckled, sending her face first into the Keweenaw mud. Rain pounded. The trail morphed into a rivulet. She refused to drown in a mud puddle. She pushed up; her upper body still Marine-strong. That blasted leg. Useless foot. Unreliable ankle. Her second howl had nothing to do with unhealable soft tissue. Without her unit, without a purpose, life sucked. Embrace the suck. She managed to rise to one knee, the other leg mired. When her dad emerged from the woods, her relief was genuine. Even if he was wearing a wet pink gauze skirt.

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Aloysius Embraces the Mud by Nancy Brady

Every so often, Aloysius would wander down to the farm where the pigs lived. He considered those pigs his friends.

The pigs, which Aloysius saved, loved wallowing in the mud especially if it was hot. That’s what they were doing when Aloysius arrived. The pigs invited the white cat into joining them, but Aloysius declined.

The mud looked messy and sticky. Aloysius was a fastidious feline, and he didn’t want to clean the mud off his fur afterwards.

When a piglet fell into the puddle and began to flail around, however, Aloysius willingly jumped in, pulling the piglet out.

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From Mud by Colleen M. Chesebro

Breathe in the daffodil-yellow moonshine glow
as dawn’s sacred songs wander like a sweet water stream
through the dark-colored rocks to the rapids below,
where magic smolders in the beauty of the moment.

Wander deep inside this thick verdant forest garden
where the moss-rock green spirit world
meets the darkness with pure light,
where sun sweetened songs play in harmony
as peaceful night moon lichen blooms
in a fertile Eden sanctuary,
born from spring rains and winter’s mud.

Therein lies the enigma of nature’s rebirth…
each periodic cycle originates from soil and moisture
and terminates with air and fire.

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Buried by Hugh W. Roberts

What’s buried in the thick mud?

***

Time was running out.

It wouldn’t be long before he got found out.

Burying it, he quickly removed any signs of disturbance.

The heavy rain and thunder didn’t help.

With mud stuck to his hair, his clothes, and over his hands, even his fingernails would give the game away.

Although the mud had swallowed up the object, he couldn’t relax.

“Adrian!” exclaimed Richard. “I’m home.”

Just in time, thought Adrian, as he lay a folk next to a tea plate.

When Richard cut into a slice of chocolate mud cake with the folk and discovered the ring, he’d propose.

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Was There Love Beneath the Dirt, or Indifference? by Anne Goodwin

The memory was muddied, all detail obscured by layers of grime. A brother, a sister, an indistinct gift. He’d tried to restore it, but the water was fouled with boarding-school bullying. The cloths frayed by military constraints. Later, with a cupboard full of fancy cleaning products, Henry hesitated to use them. Afraid of what he’d find underneath.

Was there love beneath the dirt, or indifference? Was there heart behind the promise as yet unfulfilled? Was the muck an oyster shell with a pearl inside it? Or were appearances undeceiving and it was it simply what it looked like: trash?

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Just Not Today by Donna Matthews

Rifling through my backpack, looking for a piece of mail I KNOW I put in here, and I pull out my brother’s folder instead. The folder containing all the will and lawyer info, bills from collectors, landlord notices, and such.

I decide I’m tired of it sneaking up on me like that, so I throw it on the desk where it now lies under the weight of other papers…

Just not today papers.

After the denial, it was quicksand. Now it’s not so much drowning as slogging through mud. Legs, arms heavy. His final affairs impossible to move along.

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Dire Straits? by JulesPaige

How can good mud dare
Claim with instructions to rinse and repeat
Promise to make ones face fair
Seems to me to be a cheat

Can a pretty face compare
To a day belonging to a summer’s retreat?
I’ve worked so hard to place every hair
Yet, all strands flare, is this defeat?

I flutter and preen
To impress the beau
My true self remains unseen
Hidden, so deep, below

I cry when tossed for the beauty queen
I’d love a pond of mud to swallow…
Her true personality is quite mean!
Should I take back the rebounding fellow?

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Dreamware Beta by Rebecca Glaessner

Sweat made my clothes stick. I finally found him in the greenhouse.

“Need help?” he said… unsure.

I slogged through muddy thoughts; bath, dinner- produce still low; new fertiliser, new supplier?

He waited, annoyed.

“I’m fine,” I said, words too stuck. I left.

That night I dreamed of tangible thoughts, tendrils reaching, seeking connection. He welcomed them, and I saw myself through his eyes, but without anger, just-

Love.

Early next morning, he rolled over, “you finally tried that new neural-dreamware, how’d it go?”

“Uh, I-” I smirked, “love you too?”

He grinned, “never doubted it, muddiness and all.”

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Truth at 2 a.m. by Paula Moyer

For years, the draft’s middle section had bothered Jean. Other writers read it — a saga of her marriage’s abuse and betrayal — and said, “So therapeutic!”

Ugh. Jean sighed and thought, “We don’t publish our therapy.” Something else was underneath, needing to surface.

That night at 2 a.m., Jean opened her laptop, stared at the end of the section. There it was. Under the mud. The brilliant gem of purpose.

“This is for the other Jeans.” The book could give courage.

The difference between liking the Resurrection and living It. She hit return twice. Typed out, “For all the Jeans.”

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Not Mr Nice Guy by Michael Fishman

Craig decided years ago he wouldn’t grow old gracefully.

Daily walks, the gym for cardio and weights, a low-fat diet. Pills and powders, and his treasure: testosterone. His skin care routine set him back nearly $100 a month. He had Just for Men on auto-ship.

Craig left his first wife when she gained weight, his second when she let her hair go gray. He advertised for his third to be 5-10 years younger than himself.

He had no relevant thoughts as he stood in front of the mirror and peeled off the charcoal mud mask and washed his face.

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Can’t Help It by Sam ‘Goldie’ Kirk

“You just couldn’t help yourself, could you?” Bob asked rhetorically while unloading groceries from the car. He knew his wife took no prisoners.

Bridget looked up from the side mirror. Her makeup still flawless. “What?” she asked, shocked.

Bob knew better than to answer.

“That bitch thought she could cut in front of us. Someone had to teach her some manners!” Bridget shrieked. Her cheeks crimson with fury.

“Like pig to mud,” Bob uttered under his breath.

“Mud? Here’s some for you, PIG,” Bridget shouted as she picked up a handful of mud and slung it at her husband.

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Mud Slinging by Kerry E.B. Black

Her head of PR threw the paper, disgusted. “This is going to ruin us.”

A gentle smile touched her lips. “You worry too much.”

“No, I worry the right amount.” He found a news outlet on his smartphone. “This story’s everywhere.” He pulled at his tie, as though loosening it would release the grip of the media.

She set her hand on his shoulder. “We knew when we entered the race our opponents would rake as much mud as they could find.”

“This’ll kill your campaign.” He swallowed, face read. “Aren’t you worried?”

“No. I trust the electorate process.”

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Mud by Doug Jacquier

“Let all the poisons that lurk in the mud hatch out.”

Claudius watched the daily parade of insanity pass by until incredulity died within him and he could but sit, glazed-eyed, and pray for early deliverance. What could possibly save the human race from a world where logic was considered madness, everything was a commodity and compassion had been sent to the museum for children to laugh at, along with the other moral antiquities? His only comfort was that such a society would soon implode under the weight of its iniquity and sink into the mud of history and he would do all that he could to hasten that moment.

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“Double, Double, Toil and Trouble”(~ Shakespeare) by Saiffun Hassam

Will struggled to write a play about Scottish Kings and murder most foul. His thoughts mired in mud, he walked in the forest, silvery in the moonlight.

In a clearing, he saw a cauldron over a fire. Three witches stirred a potent brew of hemlock, leaves of yew, dragon scales. The Fae fled deep into the forest, away from the bewitching spell rising from the cauldron.

Will listened to the chant:
“Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire, burn; and cauldron, bubble”.

In his mind, he saw the story of Macbeth, greed for power, hands stained with blood, and madness.

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Late Night Mudslide by Liz Husebye Hartmann

The dirt road that stretched into the darkness was flooded. Their car, tire flattened, windshield cracked and leaking, had slid into the ditch.

“You’re sure this is it?”

Thunder rumbled an ominous warning growl.

“Mapquest says yes, Leonard.”

“What was the address again?” Dave cocked a thick eyebrow, and jumped as lightning seared and split a tree not more than ten feet away.

“Well, at least I can read the work order now,” Leonard tipped a soggy paper toward the burning tree. “It’s 666 Eldritch Lane.”

“OK, that’s the place,” Dave sighed. “I really hate working for Geek Wizards®.”

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Mud by FloridaBorne

“We’ve found the planet! Captain Aliston shouted,” overjoyed at the discovery.

His second in command said, “Perhaps we should observe their rituals prior to disembarking.”

“June,” he chuckled. “You Earthers are a suspicious lot.”

“I’ll watch the ship so that you and your brother can embrace the eternal mud pit.”

“That’s acceptable,” Aliston said.

The reptilian twins entered their small shuttle with full armament. The insectoids greeted them, happy to show off their eternal mud pit. Peace…sleep. Minutes later, the insectoids tore apart the brother’s comatose bodies.

June grinned. “They should have done their research before giving me command.”

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Stuck in the Mud by Joanne Fisher

I’m only on this godforsaken planet because I was sent here. Why anyone would actually want to live here escapes me. Frankly it stank, large areas were covered in mud, but not the mud you would find anywhere else.

One time I got stuck in it. It was a metre deep. I hoped someone might find me before I died of hunger or thirst. Luckily a search party rescued me. How many others had also got stuck, but never been found? I was so glad to see the settlement again. Though I saw quite an amazing sunset out there.

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Daughter of the Earth by Reena Saxena

Mother Earth gifted him a daughter. King Janak always knew she’ll ultimately return, just like she emerged in a pot – a cute baby asking to be reared – but aware all the time she is the Mother.

He did his best to raise her like a princess, and married her to a Prince. But fate took her to the forests from the palace. Stories about womanhood and fairness of the patriarchy emanated from her journey, stories that still make people ponder what is right.

The story of Sita will never end, just raise questions. She was born to do that.

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Mud Cake Recipe by Norah Colvin

How to Make Mud Cake
Ingredients
A patch of loose soil
A generous supply of water from the sky, hose or bucket
Rays of sunlight
A sprinkle of imagination
A torrent of laughter

Utensils
Gumboots

Method
Add enough water to soak the soil. It must be wet, not moist.
Stomp until well-mixed with no visible remnants of dry soil.
Squish the mush by hand until the hands are completely encased.
Spread by hand the gooey mixture over face, hair and clothing until well covered.
Terrorise the neighbourhood.
Leave in place until dry in the sun and the mud cakes.

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Slip Sliding (Part I) by D. Avery

“Marge, Nick’s here! Does he have to stay?”
“I was here first Ilene.”
“How can that be? You just got here.”
“I mean I was here, you know, in this town, working and hanging out with Marge and Nard and Lloyd, well before you showed up.”
“I know why I don’t like you Nick, but I can’t figure out why you don’t like me.”
“Forget about it. Tell me how you lost your leg.”
“Who said it’s lost?”
“Come on, what happened?”
“Mud wrestling gone bad.”
“What? Really? How’s that happen?”
“Alligator.”
“Really?”
“No, I’m just pulling your leg.”

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Slip Sliding (Part II) by D. Avery

“You two stop your bickering or you’re both going home.”
“Yes Marge. Ok, Ilene, what are you drinking? I’m getting a round.”
“Mudslide, please and thank you.”
“Whoo! Mudslides? Those can be a slippery slope.”
“Naw, they’re nutritious and delicious.”
Nick put aside his beer as well as his animosity and drank mudslides along with Ilene.
“Ilene, you do lean you know,” he slurred. “Tell me again how you lost your leg.”
“Mudslide.”
“What?!” Nick slammed his drink down on the bar, looked down at his legs.
“Torrential rains, slippery slope— wipeout.”
“Really?”
“No, I’m just pulling your leg.”

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Slip Sliding (Part III) by D. Avery

“Seriously, Ilene. What happened to your leg?”
“Enjoying these mudslides Nick? It’s a change from your usual beer diet.”
“They’re definitely delicious and nutritious. And I ain’t feeling any pain. But you’re avoiding the question. What happened to your leg?”
“I’m answering the question. See, you will feel pain. Tomorrow. No, stay the course, Nick, it’s too late now. You’re on that slippery slope. See, I once had such a headache from drinking mudslides I wished for anything to make it go away. The Devil appeared, traded my leg for the headache.”
“Really?”
“No, I’m just pulling your leg.”

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Slip Sliding (Part IV) by D. Avery

Marge and Ernest helped Nick and Ilene out of the bar and into Ernest’s truck with Nick arguing that he could walk home.
“It’s raining Dumb-ass. The way you’re flopping all over the place you’d end up face down in a mud puddle. Get in.”
“Yes Marge.”
“Jeez. You’re never like this on beer. Whatever prompted you to drink mudslides?”
“He saw that’s what the cool kids drink,” said Ilene. “Thought it might give him a leg up.”
“Hey! What happened—”
“No more.”
“— to Lloyd tonight?”
“Oh. Lloyd’s looking for my leg.”
“Really?”
“Just pulling your leg.”

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Mud Lark by Bill Engleson

‘I’m in a fix.’
‘ ’Bout what?’
“My mind’s all muddled.’
‘I got that. What’s troubling you?’
‘My mudder.’
“Your mother?’
‘No. My mudder.’
‘Good thing it’s not your mother. I thought she passed.’
‘She did. Years ago. No, like I said, it’s my mudder.’
‘I’m still confused. What’s your mudder?’
‘Oh, sorry. Didn’t I tell you?’
‘Tell me what?’
‘I bought a mudder.’
‘That is…clear as mud. What did you buy?’
‘A mudder. A racehorse. That runs in mud.’
‘You bought a horse? To race in the mud?’
‘Supposed to be a great deal. Might even clean up.’

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The Mudflaps of Maine by Madeline Murphy

Mudflats Mema, not mudflaps,” the young girl said. Mema smiled,
They stood on a low cliff looking over the Maine mudflat.

“Come Mema,” said the little girl, grabbing her grandma’s hand and pulling her towards the path. They climbed down, grasping clumps of grass for leverage.

At the bottom, the little girl plopped onto the mud. She pulled off her sandals and wiggled her toes, squishing the mud in between them. She reached over, untying Mema’s sneakers. Mema took the sneakers off and pulled her precious granddaughter to her muddy feet. Off they plodded to search for sea treasures.

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Glorious Mud by Faith A. Colburn

When my sister and I were young, we spent every day it was fit to be outside investigating the farm our family owned. Spring was best when the seasonal creek ran under the bridge. We waded in warm, squishy almost-liquid. Soft, viscous ooze squeezed between our wriggling toes and little creatures tickled our legs. Mom gave us a flour sifter to filter whatever lurked hidden in that murky fluid. Imagine our delight when the sieve came out swarming with tiny creatures. We put them in jars where we could see them and watched them grow into toads.

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Mud Fun by Duane L Herrmann

When I was very little, 3 or 4, our country driveway had no rock where it met the rural road. Fine dust would settle there. I remember the fascination of my discovery that that amazing mud would ooze up between my bare toes. I loved to watch it do that. I didn’t know I was watching a lesson on vicosity, I just new it was awesome to see mud act that way. When we got gravel the driveway was no fun to walk on, wet or dry, but my father was happy – no more stuck in the mud!

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New Questions by Rebecca Glaessner

Mud coated my exosuit boots as I moved toward the day’s co-ordinates. My breath replaced the once-rhythmic wash of waves.

“Water levels still decreasing, decided when you’re returning?”

“Another season won’t hurt,” I glanced at the data, deep activity readings implied microscopic life, “hate to lose ground.”

The receding waters left behind new questions previous researchers hadn’t wanted to ask.

“Too much ground out there to lose.” Seated on opposite ends of the world, our laughter was dry. The comms crackled.

Rust-red soil glistened as I imagined secrets beneath the Martian surface, an expanse of hidden life, watching, waiting.

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Leech by Jane Aguiar

The water was released from the small masonry dam to the field to grow vegetables

Once the lake dries up, people flock to catch fish. I also went to catch fish and set my foot in the mud and got stuck there.

The more I tried, the more I got stuck in the mud. Suddenly, I saw something on my leg and thought it was a baby snake and screamed.

My limbs began to tremble with fear. I felt dizzy and fell in the mud. Friends carried me and pulled out the leech which I thought was a snake.

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Dirty Story by D. Avery

“Well, Pal, I cert’nly didn’t see this post comin’.”
“Reckon thet’s ‘cause ya got mud in yer eye, Kid. Looks like ya mighta already embraced the muck.”
“Yeah, was fetchin’ sticks fer Curly an’ her beaver friends. But I don’t wanna talk ‘bout that no more. NaNoWriMo? Is Shorty serious?”
“Gonna do it Kid?”
“Heck no.”
“Yer jist a stick in the mud.”
“Dammed if I am, Pal. I got chores ta tend to. Asides, I ain’t got any novel ideas.”
“That ain’t nuthin’ new. Since ya got yer whine out Kid, a toast— here’s mud in yer eye!”

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Got No Story by D. Avery

“Well, Kid, mebbe this mud yer callin’ coffee will motivate yer writin’.”
“I ain’t so worried ‘bout slingin’ mud, Pal. Reckon I kin come up with 99 words in two weeks.”
“Still worryin’ ‘bout NaNoWriMo, Kid?”
“That’s more’n 99-words times 505!”
“So? Thet’s less’n seventeen 99-word flashes a day. Ain’t gotta be perfect neither.”
“All strung t’gether inta one big story! I ain’t gotta prayer.”
“Could be yer premier novel Kid.”
“Thinkin’ thet’s premature thinkin’ Pal.”
“Don’t prescind from this opportun’ty. You kin do this.”
“Much ’preciated Pal, but I cain’t promise prose if I ain’t got a premise.”

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Whispers

If you are quiet, you can hear the whispers.

Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

Family Garden II by Duane L Herrmann

Reckendorf Friedhof is different from American cemeteries I know. Here, each family owns the plot and one person is buried per grave in most cases. That is not so there. There, the grave is rented for a period of twenty years. Anyone can be buried in that grave who you allow in the twenty years. If rent is not paid, someone else can rent the grave. All inhabitants of the grave are listed on the stone. Bodies decay naturally. Remaining bones can be moved to the bonehouse, at the side of the cemetery. Such cemeteries do not need expansion.

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Un Cuarto Con Vista by JulesPaige

All that was left of the ‘vanity,’ Great Aunt Something
Or Other left her – No real value, just took up space
Left to collect dust in the corner of the room
The Dust Bunnies claimed it for their own and multiplied
As did her stress for trying to figure out what to do with it

Looking in the mirror, she saw her Great Aunt’s face
The lips kept moving without making any sound
So she sat on the cushion stool, stared, waiting
then hearing the faint whisper of music
She saw the lovers waltzing at the Grand Ball

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A Reunion by Paula Moyer

Jean had been coming to family graveside services at Memorial since she was nine. The first was her father’s mother. Now, sixty years later, she just couldn’t remember the coordinates for them all. She stared at the sea of monuments. Nothing.

So at the cemetery office, she handed her list to the receptionist, who gulped. Both sets of grandparents, her parents, four uncles, two aunts, and now four cousins.

“All?” A stern look over her glasses.

“All.”

Disapproving silence.

“I’m from out of town. I forget each time.”

Many look-ups.

“Having a family reunion. They should all be there.”

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Whispers in the Cemetery by Jane Aguiar

One summer at midnight, I went to the church compound to steal tender coconuts. I was stealing tender coconuts, filling a jute bag, and taking a sip of beer. Suddenly, I heard someone whispering in the cemetery. With the jute bag, ran towards the cemetery. Someone was whispering, “One for me, one for you.” I dropped the jute bag right there and drove straight home.

The next day, I informed my friends that there was a ghost in the cemetery and realized that it was not the ghost but they were Louis and Dominic distributing the stolen cashew seeds.

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Whispers by Charli Mills

Jane swung, pumping her legs to gain height. The wooden swing her father hung grew in the red oak her great-grandfather planted as a teenager. Jane never knew Romeo Tonti, an immigrant, but when she reached high enough she heard him whisper through the rustle of leaves. Jane learned the family recipe for spaghetti – use fresh rosemary – and how to splice a crab apple into a honeycrisp tree – for pollination, nipotina. Her mother proclaimed to the other soccer moms that her daughter was a cooking and gardening prodigy. He father would smile and wink. He heard the whispers, too.

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Comfort Cooking by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Bok choy and thin-sliced carrots, a bit past their freshness date, sizzled in the pan. She sniffed the aromas of sesame oil, lime, and Moroccan baked tofu. The sharp scent of sliced onion softened, long layers relaxing, rolling and shining over her cooking spoon.

Red pepper and slivered greens for sharpness and color, to be added at the very end. Peanuts in a bowl.

To her left, a tall pan of jasmine rice steamed, rattling for attention. She adjusted the temperature and resettled its lid.

“What’s missing?” she whispered.

Memory whispered back, “Lemon Pepper, just a dash. And me.”

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Windy Night by Michael Fishman

Bux raised his head and sniffed. He jumped off the bed, let out a quiet huff and padded out of the bedroom.

Carl grabbed the remote and paused the DVR. He leaned over and whispered into Jean’s ear.

“And you tell me this because?” she said.

“Well, forewarned is forearmed, and I think it’s—”

Jean’s face wrinkled. “Oh, Carl, what is wrong with you?”

“I think it was dinner.”

“My cooking doesn’t do that to anyone!” Jean said as she pulled the covers over her head.

Carl thought he heard a laugh but he wouldn’t bet on it.

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The Aging Wind by Bill Engleson

I hear the wind whistle through the trees,
a soft and gentle whoosh through the air
venturing down my spine to my knees,
blossoming in the late evening glare.

I find myself drifting into twilight,
floating as the breezes vacillate,
twisting here and there in the darkened night,
ready to accept my coming fate.

Here in the shadows of my timeline,
ancestors whisper their each and every name,
who was begat from whom, where I align,
each step along my genealogical frame.

And though there are limits to my rhyme,
All I am seeking is solace in my time.

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Whispers Remain by Rebecca Glaessner

People come out changed, or not at all, says the whispers.

Called me in ta’ fix a drone. Remembered thinkin’ their workers looked mindless, till one leaned in, showed me circuitry boosts I never could’a imagined.

Wondered, why me?

Then they hired me full time, ta learn their subatomics, an’ I keep gettin’ a sense there’s more, ‘sif regular scientists hit a wall they won’t never figure.

Them that disappear, there’s papers says they wanted to. I got my own papers now, says my skills are needed off-world.

But I’m stayin’.

Human scientists need help takin’ that wall down.

🥕🥕🥕

Whispers by Norah Colvin

She watched from the side, longing to join in, fearing being ignored. Or worse, banished. Determined to beat her shyness, she’d shuffle one step forward, then the old insecurities would immobilise her, reminding her she didn’t belong. One foot forward. Stop. Another foot forward. Stop. She was almost there when the game paused, and they looked directly at her. She froze. They feigned whispers hidden behind hands. She didn’t need to guess. She ran and hid behind a tree, wishing for invisibility. “I’ll never belong!” Soon one face appeared, then others. “Please come and play with us,” they chorused.

🥕🥕🥕

Aloysius Saves the Day by Nancy Brady

Aloysius heard the whispers of his people. He didn’t eavesdrop on their conversations, but his hearing had become more acute since his adventure in the fountain.

His hearing was augmented by violets, which clung to his fur that fateful day. Months later, Aloysius still could hear the slightest sound any of his family made.

Lily, the youngest child, decided to run away from home because she was mad at her parents. Lily packed underwear in her backpack, walked to the corner, and cried.

Aloysius came to Lily’s rescue, sitting with her, comforting her, purring, and finally leading her home.

🥕🥕🥕

Whispers by Frank James

Kelli and Mary gossiped about George going home for cheating.

“The bell girls,” Mrs. Ugholtz shooed them to class.

At lunch, they chatted whispering in ears. Mrs. Ugholtz said exiting, “No need for secrets.”

They finished skulking to the bathroom.

Mary exclaimed, “Ugholtz. What about Richard?”

“In Juvie,” Kelli chirped.

Mary replied, “Barbie did Buff’s homework because of football.”

Kelli whispered, “I heard it.”

Toilet flushed. Mrs. Ugholtz stepped out, “George’s mother’s ill. Richard toured university. Barbie inspected Buff’s homework. Seven demerits!”

The girls cried.

Mrs. Ugholtz scowled, “Those who spread rumors speak louder of themselves than the scuttlebutt.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Breaking of Trust by Christy Gard

She danced and twirled around him liking and hating the dance at the same time. It wasn’t an everyday occurrence, but an occurrence that happened enough to create shame, guilt, emotions that were not hers to own. She tried speaking to others. To talk about the pain ripping at her soul. She tried to yell, to cry in desperation with gleaming razors and blood-soaked palms. But others turned away told her it was a lie, too much, to bear, to it kept hidden the darkness. So, it turned into a whisper that floats on the wind of her soul.

🥕🥕🥕

Just Another Life by Richmond Road

A call to arms. Another land
Ideals I did not understand
Unknown soldier. Unknown truth
Ideals are not bullet proof
A fallen hero. Fallen son
Lost to what could not be won
An epitaph to bold and brave
Here etched in stone upon my grave
Words of praise, of noble fight
Not words that I would ever write
Don’t search these graves. Don’t ask the dead
Search within your souls instead
No heroes here. Please move along
Go back to where you come from
There is no honour, only fear
Death the only message here
I was a soldier, was a fool
Do you see honour? More fool you.

🥕🥕🥕

Whispers by FloridaBorne

God whispers, “No one dies.”

I ask, “Why was I given life?”

Love whispers, “This is an interlude.”

“Time’s twists and turns aren’t the journey?”

My eyes glisten and tears threaten to overcome my rational mind. Were anyone to know God speaks to me, I would surely be taken to an asylum.

“Maude?”

The face staring at me is not happy.

“Mother?”

“Your fiancé awaits.”

“I would rather die than marry that fat, old man!”

“It is that, or be disowned.”

In 1886, a rich woman of 15 learns she is nothing more than a slave to her station.

🥕🥕🥕

Battles by Reena Saxena

What I call a whisper is too loud for some
My breath blows away living beings

I can’t hear below twenty decibels
my heart murmurs away all life


My breath blows away living beings
I cannot contain my own power

my heart murmurs away all life

It makes its beats felt sometimes


I cannot contain my own power
What I call a whisper is too loud for some
It makes its beats felt sometimes
I can’t hear below twenty decibels

I see you quivering, blabbering,
Blaming, shaming
Yet I don’t try, and I can’t
stoop low to match smallness

🥕🥕🥕

Whispers by Anita Dawes

Death closed its hand
Beneath the whispering autumn leaves
The old head stones tell of loved ones
I wonder, are some souls on fire?
Do they all lie at rest
Do they whisper of dancing under the sun?
Kissing under moonlight
Do they come back
Whispering in my brain
Of life beyond these cold stones
As yet, none have whispered
Of angels, golden harps or seeing Christ
Before you think me mad
I don’t hear disembodied voices all the time
There is one that stays with me
A female voice, telling me life goes on
Right there, beside you…

🥕🥕🥕

Eloise by Annette Rochelle Aben

Pilar shook as she clutched at her hoodie. It wasn’t the temperature it was the atmosphere. With every step she took in the October darkness, she thought she heard another faint voice.
Get out
This is my home
You are not welcome here
Her head moved like the beam of a lighthouse as she searched for a face. But there was no one in sight. Only dead trees and rocks,
She ran when another voice moaned.
I died here
GET OUT
It was a BIG mistake to visit the Halloween attraction on the grounds of a former mental hospital.

🥕🥕🥕

Tales Come True! by Simon

Stories of missing kids escalated over city for centuries. Words of Horrific murder, ruthless torture was still in the air.

Wells, didn’t care, young blood, sought adventure has visited, despite of all stories.

Palace wasn’t horrifying, delicious foods, erotic woman, proved the tales were fake.

Wells, decided to spread the word, wasn’t this discovery worth sharing to the world?

Wells, couldn’t open the door. Woman turned to ashes, delicious foods turned to worms.

Wells… whispered the palace, tingling skin, chills shivered up his spine.

Floor torn open, stone pellets tore his skin, his screams explained the tales, once again!

🥕🥕🥕

The Whisper by Joanne Fisher

I lay in the dark trying to sleep, when I heard a hissing. I looked to my left and thought I could faintly see two pale points of light, like two eyes watching me. I was completely frozen with fear.

“Hello.” whispered a voice.

“Who’s there?” I asked fearfully.

“Just go to sleep.” the voice whispered again, and the soft hissing began once more and got closer.

I lay there unable to move, as my eyelids got heavier and also now voiceless, knowing I might never wake up again, and there was nothing I could do. Everything went black.

🥕🥕🥕

I Told You I Was Ill by Doug Jacquier

The cracks appear in the plaster
and they start to match up with your mind,
because the foundations have slipped.

You ask not for whom the telephone bell tolls
because it never tolls for thee.

In the silence you can hear Death whispering
and your doctor says ‘take these’.

Your children, with their clever minds and dumb hearts,
are deaf to your rhythms and your reality
and suggest you take up yoga.

If only you knew one thing you were sure was true,
for now and for ever,
instead of watching the cracks spreading
in all of the plaster.

🥕🥕🥕

Seeking Peace by Sue Spitulnik

The two men sat on a strategically placed bench shaded by a majestic maple. Each leaned forward with their elbows on their knees, looking down or gazing up at a pink marble headstone, remembering. The older one wore a Vietnam Veteran ball cap. The younger one, an Afghanistan. His prosthetic legs shouted disabled veteran. They took turns talking, just above whispers. They could hear each other, but certainly, no one else would have been able to. Ending the conversation, the older touched the younger’s arm, “My daughter died doing what she wanted.” Michael cried, releasing unfounded but real guilt.

🥕🥕🥕

Free Will Choice by MyrnaMigala

Shhhh! Quiet, don’t say a word; listen now.
Be very still and with your mind; ask HIM!
Feel the calmness, the peace;
you can almost hear the whisper.
“Here I am.” It speaks. Give ear to the whisper.
The voice that says, “come!”
The battle begins, the distractions, our mind wanders, and we all know why; next, we hear that eerie, dark, sinister voice, shaky almost sing-song. We listen, we hear the call to our mind the word…M I N E!
Forgetting that peaceful moment, we wake and carry on with the voice that called us to them. MINE!

🥕🥕🥕

Forest Floor Magic by Donna Matthews

“I’m so bored!” Jack lamented.

“Oh, yeah?” I murmur back, lost in my thoughts, as I etch out my latest doodle idea.

“Listen to me!” He nearly shouts.

I look up, eyes unfocused on his distressed little face, taking in the slight pout of his bottom lip.

A wide-open day and he was bored!

“Grab your boots,” I declare.

Entering the hush of the woods, I feel him relax next to me. He kneels and explores pieces of the forest floor; pinecones, rocks, acorns, lichen. As he stuffs them in his pocket, I know they’ve whispered their ancient magic.

🥕🥕🥕

Voice Calling by Ann Edall-Robson

Craggy tips awakened by the sun. Visible after the wind pushes the blanket of unfriendly clouds away. Mother Nature confirming her beauty is for those who patiently wait in their search of the early morning sky. She continually baits ones visual appetite for more. 

Moments seem like hours before the simmering palette begins its play among the snow dusted rocks. A powerful vision emerges, eyes comprehend the massive loneliness before them.

And there is a voice calling. Wind moaning, whispering, baring the soul of the stoic rocky crevices. Telling tales of past sunrises relived in stories of the moment.

🥕🥕🥕

The Jetty by C. E. Ayr

The rock-built jetty is so peaceful in winter, just the lapping of the waves, the whispers of the wind.
It is different in summertime.
Although few sun-seekers venture out here from the beach, the sounds drift.
Children laughing or wailing, boys arguing over ball games, girls squealing in mock surprise, I hear everything.
Occasionally a youngster clambers out to explore, usually with Dad, sometimes with a friend.
And shrieks with excitement at the clusters of crabs, or voracious fish, that can be seen down crevices, feeding in unlikely places.
Then I smile to myself.
Because only I know why.

🥕🥕🥕

Seashore by Saiffun Hassam

I sit on that craggy rock near the seashore. I come to listen to sand dunes whisper stories of buried cities, of shipwrecks, of fishermen seeking shelter from stormy seas.

The rock seems like a sphinx, silent and hardhearted. It rumbles and I hear its memories of how the sun and wind and water have shaped the Earth.

Sea diatoms, seashells, sea fans, and sea urchins whisper news from across the oceans of oil spills, polluted waters, crumbling coral.
When glaciers melt, their whisperings build into wild and terrified screams as they are torn apart by a warming climate.

🥕🥕🥕

Dialects by D. Avery

My people are few in number. These English built over their bones, grew their crops in our fields.

Now these English at Patuxet have, for the first time, plenty of food and are sharing their harvest and the fowl they got with the Pokanokets, who roast deer and heat pottages. Both Bradford and Massasoit need me to interpret. Massasoit’s people number twice the English. All are fed and entertained. It is a good time for Massasoit and Bradford.

Wind whispers in the dry cornstalks. Red leaves rustle and drop. These sounds come to my ear in my own language.

🥕🥕🥕

Sardines by Hugh W. Roberts

Does a game of Sardines hold secrets Richard doesn’t want his husband to know anything about?

***
“I hope he doesn’t find us,”

“So do I,” whispered Richard. “We’re in big trouble if he does.”

“Why? What’ll he do?”

“God knows,” murmured Richard, “but it won’t be nice. Now, be quiet; I hear footsteps approaching.”

“Richard!” yelled Adrian as he entered the empty bedroom.

Creaking sounds from the wardrobe grabbed his attention.

“Oh no, I think he’s going to find us,” whispered Richard just before the two doors of the wardrobe opened. “Quickly, hide.”

“Richard! Found you. But who are you talking to?” challenged Adrian.

“Keep your eyes closed, and he won’t see us,” whispered Richard.

🥕🥕🥕

Pig In a Pond by D. Avery

“Why ya whisperin’ Kid?”
“Whisperin’ ‘cause I’m a pony.”
“Whut?!”
“You know, a little horse.”
“Jeez. Why’re ya hoarse, Kid?”
“Been hollerin’ fer my hoglet. Tryin’ ta git Curly ta come home.”
“She’s still hangin’ out with them beavers?”
“Yep. Swims in their pond, heps with their dam, even dives down an’ gits inta their lodge with ‘em.”
“Amazin’!”
“Tell ya what hurts me most, Pal. I walked down there an’ she slapped the water with her tail ta warn the beavers I was there.”
“Thet little curly tail couldn’t a made much sound.”
“Jist a whisper. Still hurts.”

🥕🥕🥕

Whisperin’ Waters A Change by D. Avery

“Kid, mebbe hollerin’ ain’t the way ta git yer hoglet ta come ta ya.”
“S’pose Pal.”
“Look, Kid. Ya were always wantin’ this hog ta be yer fur-baby, even though she ain’t got fur; made her a pet but not much of a pig. Well mebbe she ‘dentifies more as a beaver.”
“Mebbe. Beavers is real smart, like her. But Pal… I cain’t say goodbye.”
“She’s right there in the pond.”
“But that tail slappin’…”
“Yer gonna have ta regain her trust Kid. Meet her where she’s at.”
“In the pond?”
“Respect her beaver-being.”
“I’ll be a beaver whisperer.”

🥕🥕🥕

Across the Water

You will be surprised to find what’s across the water.

Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

Can They See Me? by Michael Fishman

Crisp October morning. Steam fog rises and swirls like smoke over the marsh. The wispy veil slowly moves across the water following the sun’s lead while a group of Canada Geese, hidden in the cattails and bulrush, honk and bark.

I see faces in the swirling steam. Faces of loved ones long gone. Can they see me?

The sun rises, the air warms; the steam fog slowly melts.

If I knew it to be true that we see those who have moved on in an afterlife, I’d close my eyes and lie down now.

I miss you that much.

🥕🥕🥕

A Matter Of Life And Death by Hugh Roberts

Holding on to Richard, Adrian looked out across the water.

“I told you I’d come back as a cat,” laughed Richard, “so I’m not keen being by the water.”

“But we promised we’d come to Brighton beach, ride the carousel and look out across the water on this date every year. Why wouldn’t we come this year?”

“Because it’s still too soon. Grief left empty-handed when you opened the door and let me in, but the answer to your future lays across the water.”

“But I can’t swim.”

“Who said anything about swimming to your future?” echoed Richards’s voice.

🥕🥕🥕

The Middle of a Lake by Donna Matthews

They find themselves in the middle of the lake.

Just that morning, they were arguing again over the stupidest thing…a dirty cup left in the sink. When did their conversations become so hard?

Now, here they are…quiet…lines in the water and lost in their separate thoughts. This unspeaking worse than fighting.

Her reverie’s broken by a sudden drop in temperature and wind on her face. Looking across the water, the sky darkening a deep green, a storm approaching. She chuckles at the irony of this mirror of nature on her marriage. Bring it, she thinks…she’s done with this silence.

🥕🥕🥕

The Wind by C. E. Ayr

I arrive at the headland, exhausted.
The wind-driven snow in my face has made the trip long and hazardous.
These hills can be dangerous even in calm weather.
Across the water I see the lights of home.
Where she is, with the children, my love, and my life.
Not far by boat, but I am on foot.
Another fourteen miles hard trek.
Suddenly the wind lifts again, and I am instantly alert.
My hunter’s senses are keen.
Something is not right.
Bad tidings sweep across the bay.
The sound of misery.
The scent of fear.
The smell of blood.

🥕🥕🥕

Short Story to Rouse Your Imagination by Myrna Migala

Arriving finally at the shore of a large lake, the children were excited. “We can see all the way across the water,” they said!

“Look, see that home. It looks so tall and scary.”

“There is a footpath, and we can walk all around the lake to the other side; what an adventure. We will pack a lunch and go tomorrow.”

They followed the path the next day; within a few hours, they were in front of that large home, now looking across the water to where they came.

“Look! Across the water, there is that scary house again!”

🥕🥕🥕

Across the Water by Sue Spitulnik

Who is it
Looking across the water

The fisherman searches for a set of concentric circles
Showing him the fish

The boater gauges the choppiness
Whether he’s in for a rough ride or not

The new skier enjoys smooth glass
It’s easier to maneuver behind the boat

The child jumps in delighted and unafraid
Not caring about the temperature

The skin diver goes below the surface
Enjoying the beauty and quiet

The bird takes advantage of the bugs
Hovering at dawn and dusk

The Vietnam veteran stares at the surface
Remembering bamboo straws that allowed submerged enemies to
breath

🥕🥕🥕

Styx and Stones by Liz Husebye Hartmann

His nails were dark and sharp, spreading before him as he stretched first one paw, then the other. He backed further under the Juniper hedge.

She should’ve stayed home, not taken the canoe across the water.

He’d felt the storm coming, and had refused to board with her. She’d laughed, secured her furs for trade, and pushed off, waving her paddle before turning toward the far shore.

Rain was relentlessly cruel. Thunder pierced his sensitive ears. Waves crashed cloudy red, tumbling pebbles.

 Nightfall, pressing in, might calm the storm. He’d wait here for her.

 She always came back home.

🥕🥕🥕

Down East by D. Avery

When her husband left she was most concerned about retrieving the boat. 

She hasn’t run the boat for years now, has her groceries delivered dockside every other Thursday. Told Jeb she’d understand him being late because of rough weather, but if he ever showed up early or out of the blue she’d tan him. 

She’d be polite when he delivered, just; said ‘thank you’ then ‘have a good one’; his signal to go. Jeb didn’t even cut the engine.

Was Jeb of course that found her, sprawled on her rocky shores as if still looking beseechingly across the water.

🥕🥕🥕

Her Lover Returns by Joane Fisher

Her love was across the water. She walked along the beach counting the days until his return. One day word reached her that his ship sunk and was lost beneath the waves. She grieved, wishing for his return.

One night on the beach she saw him: his hair was now seaweed and his skin was a pallid green thinly stretched over his bones, but it was definitely him.

“My love!” he croaked, holding out his arms. She hugged him, but his embrace was so tight she could hardly breathe or break free as he dragged her under the waves.

🥕🥕🥕

Is He Dead or Alive by Miss Judy

The cottage was cozy and warm, the porch perfect for unwinding. A wine and cheese gift basket welcomed her. Exhausted, Carrie was glad to be in her homeaway home. She understood her mission, knew her target, nothing left to be done tonight.

Grabbing a glass and the wine, she retired to the porch. Lights flickered across the water but not his. Had he arrived? Lulled by the quiet and warmed by the wine, Carrie fell asleep.

BANG! flashes of light shattered Carrie’s sleep. Across the water his house was ablaze. She has to know, “Is he dead or alive?”

🥕🥕🥕

The Tradewater by H.R.R. Gorman

Across the water is a country of luxury. My family loads our keelboat with goods and drags a raft of timber behind us. Across the river we float, trickling down to the exotic city where we trade.

Our family trades logs for some silk, corn for new shoes, and furs for sugar. We sell the raft to lighten the load back upriver.

I ask Pa, “Why do they trade their riches for our poor goods?”

Pa pushes the keel. “They live in a desert. To them, we’re the rich ones, but we’re all rich once we’ve shared our treasures.”

🥕🥕🥕

Crossings by D. Avery

When Epenow was taken across the water he saw how the English are. He used their words, spoke of gold so the English would return him to Noepe where he escaped. Epenow is their enemy. He became sachem of his people.
Epenow saw that I know the English too, was wary about how I was with Dermer.
Another English ship came. Many people were murdered. When Dermer returned afterwards Epenow mortally wounded him. I was taken captive and placed with Massassoit.
Now a ship harbors near Patuxet. These people, though weak, will be my strength.
I will become sachem.

*Epenow, of the island of Noepe (Martha’s Vineyard) had been kidnapped and taken to England in 1611, four years prior to Tisquantum’s abduction.

🥕🥕🥕

In my mind, I’m there by Anne Goodwin

Across the water, there is no hunger. Across the water, there is no pain. Across the water, there is justice. Across the water, there is peace.

I’d build a boat, but the waves would break it. I’d start to swim, but I’d be food for sharks.

I turn my back against the water. Dressed in rags, I face another arduous day. Sweating, toiling, aching, weeping; if I paused, I’d starve to death.

In my mind, the water freezes. I don my skates and fur-lined coat. With a smile, I glide to freedom. In my mind, there is no fear.

🥕🥕🥕

New Worlds by Rebecca Glaessner

Across the water, something glistened. Had he finally found it?

Racing, stumbling through waves, he slipped. The water dragged him under. He kicked and thrashed for an age.

Ever sinking, tired now. He’d searched for nothing.

A voice, otherworldly and infinite, reached him beneath the river’s roar, “fight, human.”

One final moment, through agony, he gave his last, then stilled.

He gasped, heaved painfully. Air?

He’d finally found it, waiting nearby, whole worlds glistening within. He touched it. It thrummed, infinite, otherworldly. Impressed? Shoulders squared, he disappeared with it, leaving his world behind.

After-all, he hadn’t fought for nothing.

🥕🥕🥕

Water Initiation by Charli Mills

Seele’s initiation to Monitor Creek came in the summer of 1975. Hot asphalt burned the tender pads of her feet. Town kids rolled truck innertubes along the highway, Seele trailing reluctantly. Her Aunt Bonnie suggested she make friends. Did these local kids have iron feet? The cool rushing water soothed until Seele pushed off the edge to follow the others. Rapids grabbed her innertube, swelling over a jumble of hidden rocks, spinning her backward, and slamming into boulders. Rubber bounced, plunged, and rose. At the bridge they all got out. Seele couldn’t wait to go across the water again.

🥕🥕🥕

Rainbow Flotilla by Norah Colvin

She wrote a message on each piece of paper and folded them into tiny boats. At the lake, she launched them from the bank, then watched the rainbow flotilla sail across the water. Curious ducks investigated, capsizing one or two, but the rest sailed on. A turtle popped up, knocking one off-course. It smashed on the rocks, but the rest sailed on. A dragonfly alighted on one, enjoying the free ride as the rest sailed on, finally reaching the other side. A child fished one out and opened it to dry. He read the message, then smiled and waved.

🥕🥕🥕

Wood Ducks in the Golf Course Pond by Paula Moyer

There they are, year after year, Jean said to herself as she pondered the wood ducks. On the other side of the fence at the end of my block. The golf course pond was where, each spring, a mother wood duck brought her hatchling into the water. And there they glided, across the water as smoothly as skaters on ice, the little caravan of mother and ducklings. She had her “ducks in a row.” Under the water was the messy part, legs churning, making it all work. Just like me, Jean thought. The mess is underneath.

🥕🥕🥕

Kolaba Fort, Alibag by Reena Saxena

Silly me! I led my colleagues to a fort in between the sea, without checking high tide timings.

And there we were …. stuck in the fort for the entire day, because we couldn’t go across the water to reach shore. Luckily for us, there was a feast on in the temple inside. They served us lunch at a nominal price.

The waves still looked daunting at 6 pm. Again, the locals came to our rescue and a 10-year old helped us navigate the waters to reach the shore.

What a blissful feeling it was to touch the ground again!

🥕🥕🥕

My Magical Creeks by Duane L Herrmann

My tiny piece of land has two creeks that join together. They are damned upstream, so they don’t always carry water. Sometimes one, or the other, or even both, have water. It ‘s magical when they do. When there is enough water, it gurgles over the rocks causing the creek to sing. Because this isn’t constant, it is more magical and special than otherwise. I would like to listen for hours, but always there is work to do. I have a path across one with two large, flat rocks. When water is running, I easily step across the water.

🥕🥕🥕

Poe-ssion by Kerry E.B. Black

Quaint and curious volumes to ponder
Yet across the water I wander
To find my friend’s lost love Lenore

For he so lost in dreams does linger
That it has quite stilled his fingers
And he writes wise words no more.

‘Tis a fate I can’t abide,
For in his tales I do reside
And hope his muse to restore

In his harried footsteps flounder
Looking for the bard profounder
In the night’s Plutonian shore

Sadness overtakes my searching
A Reaper Grim in gutters lurching
And a Raven quoth, “Nevermore.”

So much more my woe.
My beloved Poe.

🥕🥕🥕

Across the Water by FloridaBorne

The son of a Native American and a French-Canadian fur trapper continued his father’s trade, wandering through the wilds of Canada. In Roxton Pond, Vitaline Bernier became smitten with him, marrying the man who impregnated her.

He rarely visited and she only lived long enough to have three children.

There are many Bernier’s buried in the church graveyard. Vitaline is not among them. He never returned after her death.

His son left home at the age of 14, and worked on a cargo ship bound for destinations far across the pond, for Vitaline’s children were never a welcome addition.

🥕🥕🥕

The Near End by Jane Aguiar

Our boat inverted unknowingly, we were thrown into the water, darkness came before my eyes and not a single word uttered.

Husband tried to save me, but the water was pulling me away. I held my breath, so that water from the nose and mouth would not get into my stomach, even tried to paddle.

I tried desperately to get across the water, but I started to go under the barge that was anchored. My heart sank, when I saw the end near. Even in that situation, my eyes got wet in the water and I closed my eyes.

🥕🥕🥕

Theory of Species X by Simon

It’s dangerous across the water, don’t go to land.

No it’s not. I have practised, I can breath on ground too, it isn’t dangerous.

What if it is?

I’ll survive, we fight monsters everyday undersea, our next level of survival is going to be on land.

You are going to die.

No, you are.

Across the water, it discovered itself. It took different forms, it faced hell and heaven. Today, it took a form of Human, you, me, and everyone around us, is because of that species, challenged itself to change the world.

Theories are not stories, isn’t it?

🥕🥕🥕

Beyond the Horizon by Bill Engleson

I do not see the mountains I must cross.

I know that they are there, beautiful obstacles that I will need to traverse to reach my destination.

Even before I set out on this journey, my eyes see only the dream.

The dream to be there.

I will embrace the journey, feast on every stone, every creature along the way.

I am as prepared as could possibly be.

My affairs are in order.

My mission is clear.

My first step will be to walk across the water.

I will begin at the shore.

Once there, I will be free.

🥕🥕🥕

Reflections by Doug Jaquier

For us,
all things seem possible when we look across blue water,
planning a thousand buoyant courses.

We do not weigh our stamina against the undertow
nor the wind strength against our craft;
we have enough gods
to warrant speculation.

But there are those who stand upon the solid shore
who are already at the end of their worlds
and our imagined journeys
are their fated drownings.

For them,
sailing into the blue
seems a truly godless journey.

So they sit watching us,
like hermit crabs,
waiting for us to set out,
and picturing life inside our empty shells.

🥕🥕🥕

Grandmother by Saifun Hassam

A heron flew across the water. In the early morning, mist drifted among pine, birch, and wild honeysuckle along the creek.

I paused on the weathered, rickety narrow wood bridge across the water. The creek was clear. A few weeks ago, heavy rains turned the waters into a roiling muddy flow. I took a risk on those days, walking on that precarious bridge. The yearning to go across the water was all too powerful, to visit my grandmother’s empty cottage. She was dead now. Her life linked me to other shores, India and Africa. Would I ever go there?

🥕🥕🥕

A‘Wake’nings’… by JulesPaige

A ring across the water, circular trips mostly.
Two in manmade lakes.
One where three rivers met.
Curious tours for Ah-ha moments.
Three of the paddlewheel boats out of four –
One was turned into a diner theater –
Permanently docked – the actors
Making moves across the stage
While wait staff made rings around
The tables – for the service of patrons.
Making their own history, memories for me.

Four different states
Settled perhaps by four different sons
(Or daughters… all had mothers).
All have different pages in history,
Different openings to lead and guide.
So it was for those hosted rides…

🥕🥕🥕

Across the Water by Robert Kirkendall

The family drove through the mountains then the highway straightened as they approached the seaside town. Their young son was on the edge of the back seat eager to get a better view through the windshield. He felt anticipation as they moved closer to their destination.

They entered the outskirts of town and he tried to look past the buildings as they got closer to the coast. They drove ahead and he finally saw the ocean. He looked across the water gratefully as his view stretched as far as his eyes could see, unlike the valley where he lived.

🥕🥕🥕

Smooth Sailing by Annette Rochelle Aben

It was the summer of 1968. The year the Detroit Tigers won the pennant and the year our family bought a pool for our backyard!
The pool store threw in a variety of pool toys as a bonus, one of which was a six-foot Styrofoam surfboard. Temptation got the better of us and as long as our parents were at work…

We used the deck to hold it in place and with a running start, we’d jump onto the board. The force sent us sailing into the opposite pool wall. Oh yeah, we were never bored on that board!

🥕🥕🥕

In the Clover by Nancy Brady

Aloysius, the white cat, was running alongside the black horse. The horse leaped over a fence; Aloysius jumped through the slats, and they continued across another open field nearing a swiftly flowing stream.

The horse easily jumped across the water, but Aloysius stopped on the bank.

Aloysius didn’t particularly like getting wet (and what cat does?), but there was no way he could make the lengthy jump the steed did. He didn’t want to use his blue jay feather to fly though.

Standing in green clover, Aloysius wished there was a bridge, and in the wishing, a bridge appeared.

🥕🥕🥕

Jist Skatin’ By by D. Avery

“Kid! Where ya been? Was worried ya weren’t gonna make it this week.”
“Havin’ the same worry, Pal. Findin’ this anuther tough prompt.”
“Hmm. Figgered ya’d sail with this un, Kid. Or kayak, or swim, or even ride yer hoss across.”
“Yep, they’s plenny a situations could arise. Coulda had the creek rise, mebbe involve Ernie or Curly. But none a that feels right. Have been down ta the creek though, where it pools unner the trees.”
“An’? Catch a story?”
“Nuthin’. Jist set there watchin’ water bugs a-sparklin’ in the sun, skatin’ an’ scurryin’ across the water.”
“Hmm.”

🥕🥕🥕

Jist Skatin’ By by D. Avery

“Shift, Pal! The creek is risin’!”
“Thet’s okay Kid, they’s plenny a room fer thet. We’ll be alright. The Ranch is a safe place after all.”
“Curly’s stuck on the far side.”
“Gary Larson’s Far Side? Seems fittin’ fer Curly.”
“No, Pal, she cain’t git back across the water. Come help!”
“Cain’t cross or won’t? Look’t Kid. She’s over there takin’ up with a fam’ly a beavers.”
“Dam! That’s why the creek’s a-risin’.”
“Yep. Yer hoglet’s heppin’ them beavers make a pond. Thet’s good fer all.”
“But… d’ya think she’ll come back? Or has she b’come a lodge member?”

🥕🥕🥕

The Author’s Chair

The author’s chair is available. If you dare to sit.

Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

Stories from the Author’s Chair by Sue Spitulnik

I went out of curiosity, to hear what the veterans wrote about their experiences.
Each author sat in the special chair to read a piece of his writing. An Army officer recounted delivering coffee in the dead of night to frightened young rookies in look-out towers. An Air Force pilot related seeing a plane crash, then having to walk around the wreckage to go fly his own mission. The Marine lowered his gaze, described the sounds, smells, and angst of the front line, and carrying his wounded buddy to the medical tent.
I wondered who had the worst nightmares.

🥕🥕🥕

Ghost Writer by Ann Edall-Robson

This is my chair. It is my favourite place to come. It’s where I sit in the sun or hide from the weather under the eaves. The view from here and the noise of nature always make my heart sing. The songs let me soar with the lofty clouds to grasp the words no one else hears. Capturing them on scraps of paper I kept tucked in my pocket for just such moments.

My chair is old, but I see it still beckons to those who need to connect to their words. I wonder if they feel me nearby?

🥕🥕🥕

Author’s Chair by Saifun Hassam

At the yard sale, Nancy found an ornate garden chair, its metal frame painted bright blue. Nancy placed the chair near the old but still serviceable wood table in the garden near forest green hosta, ferns, and variegated rainbow-colored coleus.

When her best friend and indie author Trish saw the chair, she immediately thought of a garden tea party scene for her new historical fiction novel. Saturdays turned into a scrumptious garden party for their friends, to read and share ideas for their novels and poetry.

The garden chair settled into its new home. Proud to be a ghostwriter.

🥕🥕🥕

Strategic Support by JulesPaige

Just one seat, that old chair…
When words cease to flow
Who can we blame for our lack of skill to write
When the night brings us fright
And we trip, face first

If we could get to it
Those legs strong and true,
To lend us strength to hold us with love and care,
That one chair, near glass with
A view to change sight

To lift and warm our soul
Ease on to that pad
Sit still with calm peace, that slow warmth to grow strong
‘Blank page you will not win’
That must be the cry

🥕🥕🥕

Author’s Chair by Michael Fishman

A lumbar support is strapped over wooden cross rails; a cushion covers an unforgiving seat.

My author’s chair hates me.

I know what you’re thinking, but I’m not too cheap to buy an author’s chair. I just don’t consider myself an author.

The chair mocks me.

I’m lying down reading and from the corner of my eye I see the chair angled toward me. “C’mon,” it taunts. “Sit.”

I blink; it appears closer. “Whatcha gotta say?”

I shake my head.

“Got a story, Mr. Writer? A rhyme?”

As it scrapes across the floor toward me, I lose my mind.

🥕🥕🥕

Arthur’s Chair by Bill Engleson

He was one of those kids who needed steadiness. OCD? Maybe. He was a finicky little critter from the get-go. First day, grade one, he had to have a chair and desk right next to the teacher’s desk.

Miss Filbert.

She’d been teaching a while, but Arthur was a new one on her.

“Wouldn’t you be happier sitting next to a friend, Arthur?” she asked.

He shook his head.

Wouldn’t budge.

She was a smart lady.

“Fine,” she said, “We’re desk buddies.”

Thing was, it worked for Artie.

Gave him the confidence to stand his ground.

Or sit it.

🥕🥕🥕

Imposter Syndrome by Norah Colvin

When Dave revisited his junior school, he smiled to see the chair in its usual spot.

“Get down,” his big sister had said. “You’re not allowed on there. It’s only for authors.”

“I am an author,” Dave said, holding up the book he’d made in class.

“Not a real author. Real authors have real books published by real publishers, and their feet touch the floor. Anyway, it’s time to go.”

This time, when Dave sat in the chair, his feet touched the floor. The audience hushed as he opened his real book and began to read. Imposter no more.

🥕🥕🥕

Author’s What? by Duane L Herrmann

“An Author’s what?”

“Chair.”

“What a curious idea. Sometimes a student had to stand facing a corner in the front of the room, otherwise, students seldom came to the front.”

“They didn’t?”

“Not unless they were in trouble.”

“That’s harsh, man!”

“We didn’t want to be in the front with everyone staring at us. I had to do it once, in third grade, to give a report, and I was sure glad to get that over with!”

“Did anyone read outloud?”

“Aside from our reading group in class, which I hated, only the teacher.”

“Only the teacher?’

“Yep.”

“Wow.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Author’s Chair by Joanne Fisher

“So you want to write books?” the figure asked.

“Yes.” the author replied.

“What you need is the Author’s Chair. You won’t be able to stop writing.” the figure said. A brown leather chair appeared.

“That’s what I want. How much for it?”

“Only your soul.” The author laughed upon hearing this.

“It’s of no matter. Go ahead and take it!” the author urged.

“Fine.” The figure disappeared.

The author sat down and began writing and found he couldn’t stop. He wrote many works, but died of thirst, hunger, and exhaustion from never being able to leave the Chair.

🥕🥕🥕

Tree of Life by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Stepping from the top of one tree to middle of the other, she slides toward the trunk, tests each step. Bark snaps and spirals; it’s a long way down. Desire stays true, the guiding song.

Ascending, though the needles hurt, she’s careful to avoid new shoots. The snap of sap both glues and sparks; it draws her upward toward her mark.

Tree sways in an onshore breeze. Lake promises sweet and ease.

Sky opens wide, near Red Pine’s peak. She builds her nest, to wait and seek.

Eagle soars and tips his wings.

She is learning all new things.

🥕🥕🥕

It’s Not the Destination, But What Happens on the Way by Anne Goodwin

Bracken scratches my ankles as I traverse another false summit. For years, I’ve hacked through forest, trod on tarmac, scrambled over boulders, meandered through meadows, lost my way and rediscovered it, but still can’t reach the top. Yet it’s called to me since childhood, as I farmed in the valley below. “Come, scale the mountain, and sit on the gritstone throne.” The closer I get, the more it eludes me, but glimpses tantalise, urging me on. Until, pausing to slake my thirst, I see marvels reflected in the pool. “Relax,” say the waters. “There’s a wondrous view from here.”

🥕🥕🥕

Anticipated Success by Lindsey F. McPherson

The agony of thought, struggles of imagination, threat of criticism, prospect of praise, disturbs my creativity. I always associate the flash fiction competition with the smell of grass, hot dogs and rhythmic jazz music, all necessary for a good festival. On stage, the rainbow-coloured author’s chair is both inviting and threatening, depending on the quality of imagination that trickled into my fingers.

My blood thunders, tentatively I sit. I see family and friends anticipate a successful performance. I’m wide-eyed, bugged-out nervous. Polite applause confirms my failure for the fifth year running. “Never mind’ mother quips, “there’s always next year.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Trinity by Annette Rochelle Aben

Wandering through an estate sale, Michelle hoped they had an old wooden roll-top desk. If it had a matching chair, all the better.
Dan was constantly rearranging items as other items sold. It was his goal to see that everything would catch the eye of the right person.
He had barely moved the Remington typewriter to a more prominent place, when he heard a gasp. Michelle couldn’t believe her eyes. There was her roll-top desk with a matching chair!

She handed him a check for all three. After all, a writer needed a desk, a chair, and a typewriter.

🥕🥕🥕

Author’s Chair by Anita Dawes

My authors chair is in a pub called The Drum.
It has a blue plaque with his name on, H G Wells
A man before his time, no pun intended
He sat inside with the likes of Lewis Carrol and others
Discussing their latest ideas
I would love to have been there as he wrote notes
about what became my favourite film
The TIME MACHINE
How many would queue to sit in that chair
I would in a heartbeat
Push that crystal stopper from his brandy decanter
be on my way
Don’t look for me, I’ll be a while…

🥕🥕🥕

Author’s Chair by Reena Saxena

It’s a kind of pilgrimage for her.

They say the author’s soul still resides on that old leather chair, and blesses writers who dare to sit on it. The agent charges a whopping sum for taking people there, and allows no refunds.

A piece of eternity is on her palms, as she touches the worn out chair. Magic flows – she just knows it’s hers – very familiar, very comfortable and she sinks in the seat, never to rise again.

The agent is horrified.

Her frozen smile seems to mock him – “Are you offering a refund now? I won’t take it.”

🥕🥕🥕

Sour Grapes by Doug Jacquier

At John’s sale, his office chair is marked ‘Author’s chair $500.’
‘Are you a published author?’
‘Not yet but I will be and then you can re-sell it for a fortune. And it comes with the tapes’.
‘Tapes?’
‘I can’t type so I dictated it. The money’s to pay a transcriber so I can send it off to a publisher and become famous. And then you’ll be rich.’
‘Your book’s that good?’
‘I’m pretty sure it is but I’ve never listened to it, so it might need a little polishing.’
‘I think I’ll pass, Mr. Steinbeck.’
‘You’ll be sorry.’

🥕🥕🥕

Chair by Simon

Authors Chair, with it, I’ll be famous, just like him.

You can sit under a tree, but you can never be Bhudha.

A talking chair?

Talking Idiot!

Attitude! can you make me famous?

Do I look like a Genie from magical lamp

You are magical and talking!

You are a Human, use your brain, start writing.

And you?

I will give you great comfort! I’m just a talking chair.

I can see that.

Then why you keep asking?

No use of talking.

Enlightenment?

Shut up! I’m writing

🥕🥕🥕

Author’s Chair by FloridaBorne

It was 1997, the year I stopped working for companies and started my own business.

The old clunker of a desk was far too big for my office, and needed an army to move it. My new desk was lightweight, and easily relocated at a whim.

I plopped into 50 chairs before I found the perfect backrest, seat padding that wasn’t too firm or soft, and arm rests at just the right level.

Then I read the price tag. “$100? For a chair?”

It’s been 24 years, and I’m sitting in that same chair as I write this post.

🥕🥕🥕

Queen’s Corner by Kerry E.B. Black

Marshalling troops, in that nondescript corner of the family living room. Caught up in her private battles with deadlines and artistic excellence, she remained miles from the mundane. It’s hard to imagine the wonders she created from such a threadbare throne, yet create she did. Three novels and countless short stories she penned in the days before computers, long-hand translations of mental impressions and fanciful flights of imagination. She answered contest questions to earn spending money, captioned for prizes. Now, we haul the wingback to the rubbish as we mourn her loss.

🥕🥕🥕

Seat Of Horror by Hugh W. Roberts

Will Adrian’s birthday gift to Richard spark new ideas or give reasons to be concerned?

***
“Happy Birthday.”

“What is it?” squealed Richard as he tore off wrapping paper while Adrian took photos.

“You’ll soon find out.”

“A chair?”

“Not just any chair. Stephen King’s chair.”

“Stephen King?” You’re kidding me.”

“Nope. I got all the paperwork of authenticity.”

“I love it.”

“Get writing that first novel you keep telling us you have inside you.”

“Horror! It’ll be a horror story. It has to be horror, what with it being Stephen King’s chair.”

“Don’t let it go to your head. I’ve hidden all the knives and sharp objects but left you a pen,” giggled Adrian.

🥕🥕🥕

Purpose Rewritten by Rebecca Glaessner

The alien looked ugly, dying in the dirt, trying to remain human.

It looked like her when she screamed about my room, again. Face twisting like I wasn’t supposed to be there. I screamed back, she slapped me. I laughed.

Actually, she looked like it when I left. Ugly and dying.

I found the alien later and sat with it. It gave me its memories, stories of broken kids.

I let it.

It’s dead now, but I’m not. I found the others.

We got ourselves a space, chairs, tables, where we share the alien’s memories, and rewrite our futures.

🥕🥕🥕

Marked by D. Avery

These ones are grateful for their shelters, are proud of what they have built, though their houses are not as warm as our nush wetus. Even Bradford’s home is not as comfortable as Swany’s was in Cornhill. But like Swany, he has a chair and a small table where he marks on big leaves they call paper. Bradford reaches for his bible as Standish reaches for his musket.

I want this magic, these marks the English make and interpret. When I am sachem, Bradford will be obliged to share the secret of marking leaves. I will know this power.

🥕🥕🥕

Esprit Egression (Double Ennead *plus) by JulesPaige

In the autumn of life
The inkwell was still
In use by the paper thin skinned hand that now
Shook just a little more
while filling the page

Letters scritchity scratched
Black India Ink
Ran, danced, echoed memories real and
Imagined from the pen
Capturing moments

Until the cold winter
Arrived leaving just
The bare bones to drape on the author’s desk chair
Would fame come now that death
Had taken all else?

———–
Is the pen mightier than thoughts that wield it?
Can we define what haunts the doorways of our trials in this life?
Will what’s left tell?

🥕🥕🥕

And Still They Are Missing by Charli Mills

Louise pressed her back against a cottonwood tree, dipped her pen into the ink jar and wrote in her journal. “Silver vanished before the snowmelt and now the mountain aspen turn gold.” Her pen paused. Ink pooled. What else to say? The miners hauled more ore. Investors traded stock. Silver’s mother waited for her “Lord” to return from England. Rumors circulated that Bigfoot carried off Louise’s best friend. No one looked. Only Lord Chalmer’s disappearance made headlines in The Argonaut. One day, Louise vowed to sit in the author’s chair and give voice to the girls sentenced and silenced.

🥕🥕🥕

Author, Author! by D. Avery

“Pal, who’s Arthur?”

“Why d’ya ask Kid?”

“Shorty’s wantin’ folks ta write ‘bout Arthur’s chair.”

“Thet’s ‘author’ Kid, as in writer.”

“Oh. They’s writers all over the ranch.”

“Thet’s right Kid, an’ they’s invited ta take a seat in the author’s chair— share a piece a their work.”

“Soun’s like a hot seat.”

“No, Kid, it’s a friendly exchange. A chance ta share an’ engage with one another as readers an’ writers.”

“Like we do ‘roun the Carrot Ranch campfire ever’ week?”

”’Cept jist one author’ll be featured at a time.”

“Cool! Cain’t wait ta see who signs up.”

🥕🥕🥕

Author’s Chair by D. Avery

“So Pal, anyone readin’ this is eligible ta be in the Author’s Chair?”

“Yep. Kin read anythin’ they’ve writ; mebbe somethin’ we’ve seen b’fore or somethin’ we ain’t. Mebbe somethin’ thet’s been reworked somehow. But it ain’t got ta be Ranch related. Kin be from a WIP, a forthcomin’ book, an older book, or no book.”

“Someone jist sharin’ somethin’ they wouldn’t mind talkin’ more about.”

“’Zactly Kid. But the talk’ll mostly come from other folks’ questions an’ comments.”

“Seems ta me folks that write injoy talkin’ ‘bout writin’.”

“Yep. Thinkin’ the Author’s Chair’s gonna be a good ride.”

🥕🥕🥕

A Big Black Horse

Saddle up to ride these stories that feature a big black horse!

Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

Horses Run at Midnight by Liz Husebye Hartmann

“We’ll start you on Maisie. See how you do.” Her father smiled at her, one hand on the saddle, the other held out in invitation.  

Josie swallowed, took a deep breath, and nodded. She could easily hop onto Maisie’s back — nowhere near as high as the jump to Thunder’s back — with no need for a hand up. She and Thunder exchanged longing glances over the stall door, keeping him locked away.

Maisie nickered, brushing soft lips across stable floor, searching for scraps of straw.

Best she comply for now; Father wouldn’t approve of their clandestine, Thunderous midnight rides.

🥕🥕🥕

The Stallion by C. E. Ayr

I hate when he calls me ‘the black horse’.
I’m a thoroughbred stallion, a champion.
He is an insensitive brute.
I wonder what she ever saw in him.
She is gentle, caring, loving.
I worship her.
This morning I didn’t run well.
Maybe a touch of hay fever?
He’s not amused, he shouts at me.
But when he raises his whip, she tries to stop him.
And he strikes her.
She retaliates by whacking him over the head with one of those tools.
I think he’s going to get up and hurt her.
So I make sure he doesn’t.

🥕🥕🥕

For The Love of Greek Tragedy by Artimis Ash

There are no true words to describe my love of the one walking away back turned toward me. A winter affair, doomed to end when Spring came. My siblings had willed it. I’d argued, cried, lost.

Six months my hands wandered the length of his muscled body. Caressing his long silky hair shadowing his face, darker than night. Nuzzling my nose in his neck. Six months I’d ridden him daily, his strength bucking between my porcelain legs.

Now I stand on the shore of the river watching Demeter lead my stallion away, my chariot dead by the river Styx.

🥕🥕🥕

You’ve Come a Long Way Baby by Fiery Females

The knight on a white horse came riding through the wind and swept her to an unknown place….

The dream always ended at this point, as she wondered where.

Nights are less scary now. The horse is a Big Black one, not white, and the rider is fully in control of directions and destination.

She sleeps in peace and occasionally peeks at the rider’s face.

The mirror is always a lovely place to look in….

The knight on the white horse is trailing behind, wondering if he can keep up with her dreams.

You’ve come a long way, Baby!

🥕🥕🥕

Out to Grass by Ellen Best

The crop snapped his flank,

the pop spurred him on,

His acclaimed turn-of-foot

would deliver his swansong.
A snort a twitch

The winning post Past

At the final stroke

This race would be his last.
Put out to grass

Racing finished

Time to shine gone

No friends to race

Or bowls of mash

No roar of the crowd or

heads to clash.
In this meadow

🥕🥕🥕

And The Winner Is by Myrna Migala

One day not too long ago, a black horse was galloping through the forest.
Stopping suddenly because he heard a cherry tree speaking to its neighbor, the apple tree. “My fruit is much sweeter than yours,”

“You think so,” said the apple tree! The apple tree continued, “have you not heard it was the luscious allure of the apple that resulted in the fall of mankind.”

“That is just a fairy tale,” said the cherry tree.

“Is it?” The apple tree came back with an assertive voice.

The horse voiced, “even if a tale, the author chooses the apple.”

🥕🥕🥕

Destination by Lindsey McPherson

“Hey! Amigos, the border is open, they’re not stopping us”.

The amigos, sized up the border from behind the cherry tree. “Hey, what’s the story?’

One replies “We are waiting for our onward destination!”

“See, we can cross!” They trot through the one-way gate.

“You, black horse, you’re a beauty, you’re going to Hollywood. Palomino, you’re strong, you’re going to Texas. White mane, over there with that family, you’re going to California.”

“What about me, I want Hollywood too?”

Rancher replied, “You’re a pigmy horse, a reject!”.

“So where am I going?”

”France! They prefer small steaks”.

🥕🥕🥕

Elusive by Ann Edall-Robson

Around the dying campfire
old timers’s voices talk…

About the full moon
dancing through the clouds
and the vision of the big black horse
running hard across that ridge

Mares fleeing silhouettes
galloping towards the trees
the black horse nipping
at them, up there on that ridge

And when the moon sets
brining daybreak to its life
the ground is scarred with
hoof prints across that ridge

The stories of the elusive herd
be they truth or be they myth
does a big black horse still run free
up there on that ridge

…chasing wild horses
along that ridge

🥕🥕🥕

Racing the Horse by Nancy Brady

It was the autumnal equinox, and the maple leaves had already begun to turn a bright red.

On his way home, Aloysius noticed a big black horse cantering in a field. He wanted to run alongside the horse, but he was too slow until one red leaf fell.

Stepping on it, Aloysius suddenly sped up. More red leaves fell from the maple trees onto Aloysius’s path; he ran faster and faster until he caught up to the horse.

The horse began to gallop in response to Aloysius’s speed. Joyfully running together, the horse and cat raced around the field.

🥕🥕🥕

Weed by Simon

I’m high, on a cherry tree

could not explicit, this exceptional feeling

questioning! a way to forestall emotions

My emotions, It’s rolling it’s subsiding

Fallen from the tree, I felt no pain

I was on a Big black horse, vain.

It is stealing me from reality, that’s not vain!

Wherein this journey ends? the map says to keep going.

Am still High? I need no end, Must I get more high?

Feels right, weeds don’t hurt

Feels right, feelings don’t hurt

Feels right, to feel okay

Get high, don’t sigh,

🥕🥕🥕

Feeney’s Nightmare by Bill Engleson

Long after the dream ended, Feeney was troubled by it. Dream or nightmare, it was unusual. Sile had given him a middle-of-the-night shake, put her nose to his, said “You’re shouting.”
“Shouting what?” he had muttered. “I don’t shout.”
“No,” she had smiled, “you’re usually a quiet one when you’re dead to the world. Not this time, bucko.”
“So, what was I yelling?”
“Crikey, what was it? Mostly incoherent is what it was…no, it was…Mickey Mouse.”
“Really?”
“Or maybe Pig Pack Porous…?”
”That’s gobbledygook.”
“Okay. Maybe… Big Black Horse?”
“Mice! Pigs! Horses!”
“Maybe Tic Tac Dough?”
“Go to sleep.”

🥕🥕🥕

Nightmare by Kerry E.B. Black

She comes every night with heavy tread. I cower beneath my covers, reduced to a pleading child. It doesn’t deter this manifestation. She looms, breathing heavy snorts of derision. Although I dread it, I know my part.

I climb through my consciousness and mount the beast, this collection of fears made flesh, shadow turned solid. She’ll rear and stomp while I cling, helpless.

Soon she’ll paw the carpet with impatient hooves.

She’ll never suspect I’ve been learning in the afternoons. Tonight I grip a surprise – a bridle.

It’s time I control my evenings.

I hear her heavy tread approach.

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Beauty on the Battlefield by Anne Goodwin

“This devil’s yours, Sambo. Kraut won’t see you coming in the dark.”

The stallion had a malicious glint in its eyes, but the glint in the captain’s was meaner. Walter had never ridden before; Beauty had never seen action. But they’d learn; they had to: hesitant horses were dinner; the deserter’s fate was worse.

Patience paid off. Walter soothed Beauty’s nerves on the battlefield; Beauty eased Walter’s yearning for home. Gassed, shell-shocked and wounded, Walter returned to St Kitts to die. He left his medal with Beauty in Flanders. It belonged to the horse as much as to him.

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Medicine Horse by D. Avery

A shadow softened the sharp rays that pinned him to the sunbaked ground. He opened his eyes to see the soft nostrils that blew a cooling caress; saw an unshod hoof of the big black horse that nudged him until he struggled onto its back.

‘What big black horse?’ the townsfolk asked.

Recovered, he would avenge himself against the men who’d left him to die. But their horses, still saddled, a boot hanging in a stirrup, clattered into town ahead of the big black horse.

‘What big black horse?’, the townsfolk asked, for there was no sign of it.

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Black Horse by Joanne Fisher

Jess and Cindy went out riding. It had been several weeks since Cindy’s miscarriage, and the gloom was still around her. Jess watched her anxiously. As they rode, a big black horse suddenly appeared in front of them. It was black as a storm cloud and it’s hoofbeats sounded like thunder. Instinctively Cindy chased it, with Jess following behind. Then the black horse disappeared, and Cindy brought her horse to a halt. Once Jess caught up with her, she found Cindy motionless and staring into space.

“What was that?” Jess asked.

“Some sort of phantom,” Cindy replied, feeling uneasy.

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The Headless Blacksmith by Gloria

The blacksmith was hanged on a tree that once stood tall and strong. Now, its branches hang low, weeping for him; an innocent man. Guilty only of seeking to castigate the cretin who violated his wife; the influential man who smoked cigars and drank fine whiskey.

The headless blacksmith rides the dark lanes on his big black horse. With no need for sight nor light, he circles the weeping tree before galloping into the night, hunting for the dissolute rich man—who has long since perished under the hooves of the black stallion. The blacksmith rides on; doesn’t rest.

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The Big Black Horse by Duane L Herrmann

My little sister wanted a horse. We had an empty barn and pastures. She promised to take care of it. She begged. Our father bought one and brought it home.

“It’s so big!” My sister gasped, gazing at the giant, black beast.

“Here,” said dad, handing her the brush.

Fearfully, she approached the animal, touched the brush to its side. The skin reacted by rippling and the horse swung its tail in her face. She screamed, dropped the brush, ran out to safety and never approached it again. It took our father a month to sell it.

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A Wild Ride by Charli Mills

Clods of dirt flew. A big black horse thundered through the apricot orchard, a small child perched bareback, her knees drawn up to his withers, tiny hands grasping long mane. A woman in a kerchief ran, bellowing like a calf separated from its mother. Saucy, the Australian Shepherd with one blue eye, zipped past the woman and caught up to the horse, nipping at his hind hooves. The dog turned the horse around at the one lone cherry tree planted at the orchard’s edge. He trotted smooth as butter back to the barn. The woman wheezed. The child grinned.

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Fair Play by D. Avery

“These aren’t like Lucienne’s team of Morgans.”

“No, they’re not Hope.”

“And they’re not like the horses we saw at the pull this morning.”

“They most certainly are not. These are fancy riding horses.”

Hope studied the high stepping horses in their fancy tack. “That one Daddy. The big black horse.”

“She’s a beauty, alright. And big. Are you sure?”

“Yes Daddy.”

“Do you want help getting on?”

“I can do it Daddy.” Stepping into the high stirrup and swinging herself into the saddle, Hope rode round and round while her father watched from the edge of the carousel.

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The Big Black Horse by Norah Colvin

The riders considered the available horses. Fergal chose the big black, Valentina the silver. They mounted their steeds and entered the arena. Fergal cantered to one end and

Valentina the other. They steadied their mounts and faced each other.

“Let the contest begin! Charge!”

The contestants galloped towards each other.

Nearing the centre of the arena, Fergal’s black steed balked, tossing him off. Valentina wheeled her horse around, dismounted and raced to Fergal’s side.

“You okay, Fergal?”

“It’s only a scratch.”

“I’ll get a plaster from Miss.”

“It’s okay. Let’s go again. Can I have silver this time?”

“Okay.”

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What’s the Chance by Rebecca Glaessner

“Black’s not moving-” he cried.

“It’s okay baby, I’ll fix it,” she said. She’d chosen Black. She should’ve seen the signs.

Never again. No more shortcuts.

She’d tried other horses, same dark fur, tall, friendly, but he always knew.

Her team arrived, collected Black and she returned to work, tireless and determined.

If anyone could solve it, she would.

A year on, Black’s fatal allergy to her son’s DNA finally revealed itself.

She watched Black nuzzle him. He hesitated, eyed her, then embraced Black fiercely, grinning through tears.

Regrown, genetics rewritten, memories transferred, Black never had to leave again.

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Escape by Connor Dickinson

1984.
Blackened Coal Miners defeated. Watched by latchkey kid.
I, chained with a rusty key around scrawny neck on pebble-dashed council estate. Sick of the one, stingy Weetabix or watered-down milk.
However, cleaner mum magicked fifty pence for electric meter.
Du du, darra du duuu . . . .
Thirty minutes of a long dull week, I became galloping Black Beauty blurring our 1980s, boxy plastic TV screen. My monochrome coat magicked to colour within a year, defying wood-veneer-surround.
A glossy stallion not delinquent-dobbin: thorough-bred, not horseshit.
Unbridled, not poverty confined.
Clothes fuzzed like static TV.

My field vision became green.

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The Magic of a Silly Brown Pup by Sue Spitulnik

When Michael started whistling the tune to “Big Black Horse and a Cherry Tree,” Jester went into action. He raced from his master to the door and back several times while Michael donned his prosthetic legs. Once outside, Michael sang his own words to the catchy tune. “You’re a too tall mutt with floppy long ears. You walk in the trees with me. Woo-hoo. Woo-hoo. My chair stays home, where many think it should be. Woo-hoo. You’re as much to me as any big black horse could be. Woo-hoo. My silly brown pup runs along with me. Woo-hoo. Woo-hoo.”

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Horse by Saifun Hassam

Along the rocky shores of Lake Kiefer, one boulder stood out, with its obsidian color and unique contours. Old George called it the Big Black Horse. Sunlight lit up Horse’s dark eyes in his proud, uplifted head.

Old George and Horse became friends decades ago when George and his children came for fishing and camping. He was surprised how quickly the youngsters “adopted” Horse, leaning comfortably on his back. Horse listened to the children confiding secrets, and he kept their secrets.

Old George died at 90. In a powerful earthquake, Horse tumbled as a pebble disappearing into the lake.

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Blizzards Of The Mind by Hugh W. Roberts

Why does Richard’s memory of a big, black horse take him in the wrong direction?

***
“Do you remember the day we first met?”

“Why do you ask?”

“No reason. I’m curious.”

Adrian watched Richard go into deep thought.

“Did it involve a big, black horse?”

“It did, yes!”

You were riding it through a snow-covered field during a blizzard one Christmas. You and that horse stood out so much,” laughed Richard.

Smiling to himself, Adrian closed his eyes and recalled their first meeting. On Brighton beach, he watched Richard riding a big, black horse on the carousel one summer.

The early stages of Alzheimer’s were causing another blizzard in the mind of his husband.

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Steady Gallops by Ruchira Khanna

Being an empty nester has more pros than cons. The house is cleaner than before, with not much on the to-do list. The driving from one class to another is bygone. The constant chattering and the back n fourth arguments are on silent mode.

Over the years, we’ve taught him the values of Life by discriminating right from wrong and emphasized discipline, respect, and hard work.
Now, it’s time to sit back and watch the show.
Hopefully, it’ll be a steady rhythmic ride where the kiddo will learn new things and move forward with steady gallops like a stallion.

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Dreaming of Horsefeathers or Big Medicine? by JulesPaige

Long day began at getting up early to take the grand to school. After that I visited my little free library and dropped off egg cartons and vases for the farmer’s daughter, that has a stand in her aunt’s yard across from the Little Free library. Then together we stopped to visit a friend who was moving. We stopped at a yarn store to use a gift certificate.

We then were meeting another friend for lunch. I saw them. Many horses on the way home… Maybe we could go riding this autumn?

suspended
single summer day
by a nap

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Another Horse Story by FloridaBorne

“Not another story about a big black horse,” the editor of a prestigious publishing company said. “How many does that make this week?”

“Six,” Marsha said, one of the employees he called his lesser editors.

“Does no one have an iota of creativity?”

“All the good writers are self-publishing,” Marsha said. “When you gave your regular authors their walking papers, that’s what they did. Look at the non-fiction best sellers.”

Reviewing a list on Marsha’s computer, he exclaimed, “How to Publish Your Book and Keep Most of Your Profits!?”

“They’re not horsing around,” Marsha said, chuckling at the joke.

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Horse Tails by D. Avery

“A black horse Pal? Seems anonymous.”

“Think ya mean ominous.”

“Did ya catch its name?”

“It didn’t say.”

“An anonymous black horse. Could be a portent.”

“Ev’ry prompt’s important.”

“Well, I’ve called on Logatha LeGume fer this one. She knows horse magic.”

“Logatha knows horse magic?”

“Oui, Pal. Some people read tea leaves, I read horse muffins. Keed, dees ees fresh from da black horse?”

“Yep. How’s it lookin’ Logatha?”

“I see horse tales in da future.”

“Ya kin see that from what’s passed?”

“Really Kid? This is horse puckey!”

“I sense you weel step in eet.”

“Aw, shift!”

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