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Extraction Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

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

Caution: Pharmacist at Work by Nancy Brady

At the College of Pharmacy, I made tablets, solutions, emulsions, ointments, creams, and suppositories. Whether I ever made an extract, I can’t recall; however, I can’t imagine that I didn’t. After all, our class even made eye drops with a laminar flow hood. As a pharmacist, I made many compounded prescriptions.

This recipe required vanilla extract, and I wondered: could I make it? Considering that I was out, and with supply chain issues, so was the store. I scanned the shelves carefully, and then I saw it. Wedged behind lemon extract, one bottle of vanilla—I slowly extracted it.

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Evicted by Hugh W. Roberts

They’d never wanted to move home. But the time had come.

If the landlord had only looked after the maintenance a little more, they wouldn’t have found themselves homeless.

On the day they were evicted, they’d all clung on for dear life. They hadn’t expected the maintenance to be so bad. Luckily some friends close by took them in.

“It won’t take long, Mrs Knowls. You’re doing very well,” said a rather plump lady dressed in a white coat. “That tooth is severely infected with bacteria who’ve made it their home. I’m about to extract them and their residence.”

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Conversation Extraction by Norah Colvin

Marcia’s eyes met Henry’s across the room. He looked as unenthralled and uncomfortable as she was. He raised an eyebrow. Her mouth twitched, part smile. She extracted herself from the conversation. He did the same. They met by the kitchen door.

“Haven’t seen you at one of these shindigs before,” he said.

“First time.”

“Enjoying it?”

“Better now. That conversation was more boring than a tooth extraction.”

“What were they discussing?”

“Teeth extractions. They’re all dentists.”

“What about you?”

“Teacher. You?”

“Dentist.”

“Oh.” She reddened, then smiled. “You should join that conversation.”

“You should join mine. They’re all teachers.”

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Extra Traction by Bill Engleson

I skid sometimes. My feet give way. I fall. I see my wobbly self plummet to the ground, crash into the earth, become one with the dust.
Love!
My quicksand!
Sliding, slipping on the hot payment of desire, hankering, she calls it.
She?
Where did that come from?
“Hey, Romeo…”
I feel a tap on my upper arm.
The tap becomes a shake.
“Seriously. I know you’re awake now.”
I guess I blinked.
“Your dreams are becoming pretty X-rated, sweetie,” she laughs.
I roll over, sheepishly.
“What’d I say?”
“HOT PAVEMENT OF DESIRE,” she snickers.
“I’ll make the coffee.

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Extraction by Ann Edall-Robson

Water sputters across roof tops from garden sprinklers. Taps open wide. Smoke bellows over the ridge. Flames crowning tree pushed by the fire’s own weather system. Retreat choices are gone. The argument to stay, to fight for my livelihood, my life, lost. I hear the helicopter coming to extract me from this hell I didn’t ask for. Tears splash through grime on my face and I wipe my nose on my sleeve, not giving a damn who sees the raw emotion. Sniffing, I take one last look, before the chopper dips, retreating towards the other end of the valley.

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The Extraction by Joanne Fisher

“They think I’m crazy! I need an extraction immediately.” Maz said talking into her wrist.

“And what are we doing out of bed?” The nurse asked shining a flashlight.

“I’m trying to leave.” Maz told her.

“I think you should be sleeping.” The nurse replied. Maz was marched back to her room and given a sedative.

“I don’t like these pills.” Maz complained.

“Just take it, and no more night adventures please.” The nurse ordered. She closed the door behind her, but heard a thud. Opening the door again, she found Maz was gone. “Damn the alien got away.”

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The Extraction by Gypsie-Ami Offenbacher-Ferris

“You nervous?” Cheri asked.

“Extremely,” I answered, “Kyle’s supposed to be extracted from Afghanistan soon.”

“Why are medical places always so cold?”Cheri complained.

“I guess to keep the germs out,” I murmured.

“You alright?” Cheri asked.

“I’m really tense, but excited too.” I said.

“Miss Franklin, we’re ready for you now.”

A lady in pink sat me in a medical chair. A tall man in a white lab coat and easy smile, came in.

“Open wide then, let’s get those teeth extracted. Your fiancé’ll be surprised won’t he?” He asked.

I nodded, closed my eyes and opened wide.

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Rotten by Gloria McBreen

The masked face stood over my dread-filled body. Inhale through the left nostril, exhale from the right; they said to do, in a book I read once. So I did. Imagine having your feet massaged. Visualise soft hands gently kneading away your fear. I did that too. But I couldn’t relax my tremoring body. I dug my fingernails into the palms of my sweaty hands as his latex fingers came at me.

I cried inside as I imagined life without lemon drops and fudge. I tasted blood. I felt dizzy. Then it was all over. Another rotten tooth extracted!

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Trying to Look Beyond the Gray by JulesPaige

Extraction
From one’s familiar
Bound in gray
Servitude
Some people know nothing else
The wind rattles truth

Jane thought she could handle her emotions. But the kindness of Gertie let Jane’s tears flow. Even without the wind rattling, Gertie knew there were many unjust actions taken across the ocean known as Pearl Lake. Politicians often staffed their homes from orphanages. Were those children there by choice, or stolen? Did they really lose their parents after one last starry night filled with enjoyment… those memories too soon to fade by harsh realities. Jane sobbed over the loss of her friends.

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Mrs Dalloway Comes to Therapy by Anne Goodwin

She would have to buy blinds. On sunny afternoons the room got so hot she risked nodding off. It was bad enough letting her thoughts wander, contemplating furnishings instead of focusing on her client. Mrs Dalloway might have a tendency to ramble but Anne’s job was to extract the deeper meaning from the noise. But it was a struggle. The woman’s preoccupation with her party seemed trivial. Unless Anne’s musings on window-dressing were the key to her unconscious? Perhaps Mrs Dalloway regretted turning a blind eye towards those less fortunate. Perhaps she wanted help to face to the truth.

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Guilty? Or Not? Will the Committee Decide? by Judy Marshall

“He’s guilty!” “Arrest him!” everyone knew who was responsible.

The authorities called for calm. They would need ironclad facts to convict. “We need an investigating committee.”

The committee spoke with hundreds of witnesses and gathered thousands of documents and digital records. The days and months wore on, evidence piled up. Nothing seemed enough. They needed the “silver bullet,” the one pointing at Mr. Big.

Would they be able to extract it before it was too late? Time was running out. People were losing confidence in the people assigned to the task.

Will justice prevail? “Time will tell,” they say.

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Buried Truth by Simon

What are you doing?

Heard of the phenol‐chloroform DNA extraction procedure? Slightly modified version to blend with our existing virus.

But Why?

Our DNA have a resemblance with this Virus.

What are you proving here?

Our species don’t belong to Earth, all the theories we read are bag of lies.

Woah! I have no words to say now, except ‘Hands up’

What you doing?

This piece of information dies here.

Our species can do more than we think.

Yes, we can do more, where do you think Newton, Einstein came from? Like me.

Gun shot.

Rest in Peace Dr.

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Tell Me if This Hurts by Doug Jacquier

Every evening, Dr. Frankenstein returned home from his dental practice (where he made his routine joke with new patients that he was of European extraction) and drilled every ounce of joy from his wife and children that had accumulated within the cavities of their hearts during the day. He would then fill the holes with an amalgam of worthlessness and inferiority, before relaxing in his armchair, crunching nitrous oxide cartridges between his perfect teeth. What he didn’t count on was Mrs. Frankenstein developing a keen interest in cartridges of a different kind. Never again would he hurt their fillings.

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Extract by Scott Bailey

Hands shaking with excitement, two archeologists, eager to make a discovery that would overshadow their bumbling incompetence, nervously extract pieces of parchment from a clay jar found deep in a cave.

The ancient text is badly damaged, nearly illegible. Scientific Theories? Holy writings? They guessed wildly while sitting cross legged on the cave’s floor anxiously poring over the eons old documents spread out before them.

Badly misinterpreting words and phrases, until suddenly they break the secret code.

“Eureka!” they shout. Elatedly and triumphantly they proudly read out loud the mysterious and cryptic deciphered text: “We Skipped the Light Fandango”.

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After Armageddon by H.R.R. Gorman

Once Armageddon was over, the angels gathered up the dust and bones of all the dead people that had ever existed upon the earth. They separated them in piles: good bones or bad bones, faithful dust or unfaithful dust. They placed the pieces into two boxes, then squeezed and distilled until the souls were extracted from the atoms within.

The good souls remained together, happy to exist in unity. They enveloped the earth and lived there forever.

The bad souls evaporated into the Chaos, and there they’ll stay there, alone, until they can forgive themselves and all of creation.

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Cyborg Escape by Saifun Hassam

The CyBorg Starship was closing in on my space yacht. Ahead was the giant star of Cygnet Tau. Better the neverending orbit around the star than to be tortured by Cyborg extraction of my mind. I had seen enough zombie spacefarers on planets that were jumping-off points for exploring deep space.

Fighter yachts shot out of the Cyborg starship. I was already in orbit around the star. The mother ship crashed into the fiery depths of Cygnet Tau. I cheered!

My Mindship Adelia reset the systems drawing on the star’s energy. The Cyborg fighters would return, I was sure.

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To The Stars by Duane L Herrmann

“I don’t want to go!”

“I know son, but you must. You can’t stay in this cave forever.”

“It’s scary out there. I might get hurt.”

“It is scary until you get used to it. You have to learn how to be out on your own.”

“Something might eat me!”

“You’ll have to learn to run.”

“MOM!!”

“OUT!” She pushed her son out into the sunshine.

Leaving the cave is always scary, but staying in would not help mankind progress. We had to go out into the world. Extraction was necessary.

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Extraction by FloridaBorne

Extraction can mean removal, mining, origin.  What if you were removed from your planet and didn’t remember your origin?  Not unusual when the galaxy is run by miners. We were still using the horse and buggy when they pulled us children out of our houses.

Most of the mining is mechanized. I learned how to fix the machinery and they dropped me here at fifteen. Most die at twenty-one.  I was twenty when the miners took away their machinery.

It’s lonely out here living in a hut under the stars.

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Extraction by Sue Spitulnik

Scott, the young vet that had begun tending bar at the No Thanks was a keen piano player. He enjoyed making up jazz tunes, so his was a totally different sound than the house band. One afternoon, he played the same main theme repeatedly, adding a few more bars of music each time. The whomping of the lower notes drew Mac in, so when Scott finally stopped, Mac asked, “What are you going to name that piece?”

Scott looked startled, like he had forgotten he wasn’t alone. “Extraction.”

Mac nodded. “You have the sound of the helicopters down pat.”

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Disappeared 12 by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Eloise shook her head to clear it of the song, but she couldn’t clear it of her guilt. Andrew, pain that he sometimes was, had helped in the past with the twins.

“You’re annoying, but I don’t hate you,” Eloise held her arms out and took a twin under each arm.

“Look, I did a bad thing. I sent Andrew on a Quest, and I don’t know how to get him back home.”

The twins looked at each other and piped up, “We do! Shadow Man needs the right words to undo the spirit extraction. But we gotta hurry!”

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Not Again by Sadje

My tooth was giving me so much pain that I was desperate for relief. I rang up my dentist and was told to come in the next day. On my arrival, he took X-rays, and after examining the offending molar closely, he told me the bad news. You can either get rid of this one as it’s the last one on this side or go for a root canal treatment.

I opted for extraction. It was the quickest option. The molar was so firmly fixed that it required quite an effort to pull it out.

I’d lost another tooth!

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Step Forward into Altered Destinies by Scott Rhodie

Harsh stubble grates against my luminous work jacket as I listen to the tap of steel toe capped boots. I’m aware my morning grey matter cannot engage with thought.

A dark-skinned unwanted beauty stands waiting in the bus queue; his tight green dress straining over hourglass hips, with exquisite nails, sumptuous red lips, and bright heels to round off her ensemble; she’s dazzling and tragic.

Our journey’s conversation guided us both to the extraction and exchange of ideas in useful directions, knowing we should leave no room for uncomfortable silences and irrational fears as we make society’s shame visible.

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Follow Me by Michael Fishman

The day was sunny and warm. The sky was as clear and blue as Cindy’s eyes, and if a fellow wasn’t careful, he could get lost in both.

“C’mon,” Cindy said. “Take off your shoes and follow me.”

“Where to?”

“Never mind, just c’mon.”

“I’m not sure—”

“Oh, stop. You’re stodgy. Just do it.”

I did it, but not for long.

~~~

The worst part was when the emergency room doctor pulled the rusty Coke pull tab out of my foot and stitched it up.

The best part came later than night as Cindy proved to be an excellent nurse.

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Can You Trust Me by Gary A. Wilson

Monica rubbed condensation from the barred window so she could see the moon-lit field.
Kidnappers had pushed her into a van. She fought until one slugged her so hard that she collapsed, barely conscious.
A metallic sound startled her. Having been warned about local sex trafficking, she fought panic as a chain was removed from the door. Someone was coming.
A dim light silhouetted a large man. Her heart seized.
“Who are you?”
“Call me, Driver. I drove the van last night; but I did not sign up for this so I’m extracting you – if you can trust me.”

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Out Out! by Geoff Le Pard

Pretentious Fullofhimself was born with a tendency to sneer and belittle. When he started at Little Tittweaking’s School for the Permanently Confused he corrected the teacher’s grammar, questioned the logic of school rules and treated his contemporaries with contempt, accusing them of using terminological inexactitudes rather than fibbing. His teacher, Solid Downtoearth often despaired but eventually embraced Prentitious’s methods: if he wanted him to hurry along, he knew he’d get through if he told him to ‘extract a digit’ rather than pull his finger out.

After several false employment starts, Pretentious found success in the Local Council’s complaints department.

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Home On the Ranch At Last Installment (Part I) by Miss Trie Writer

“Dang it Pepe, we been all around the world in this stinkin hot air balloon a yers, still ain’t seen hide ner hair a Kid an Pal.”
“Deed you notice Ernie, dat we saw da whole world an never left da ranch? Dees ees a worldwide community!”
“Thet’s great, but where in the world are Kid an Pal? How’s this Mz Trie Wrighter gonna extract us from this endless mythtry?”
“I teenk you mean extricate, but oui, she ees not much better den D. Avery. We weel land dees balloon behind de saloon. Frankie an dem are waiting dere.”

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Home On the Ranch At Last Installment (Part II) by Miss Trie Writer

Frankie and the gang got the balloon secured. After extracting Ernie and Pepe from the basket, they went around to the front of the Saddle Up Saloon.
“Hey y’all.”
“Pal! Keed! Where in de world ‘ave you bean?”
“What d’ya mean? Was down by the crick, where ducklins was eatin Kid’s lunch. Next thing we know, here we are.”
“Pal, ducklins was a month ago. Ya ain’t been seen since.”
“Whoa. Stop. Back up. What?!”
“Ees true, Keed. Ees beeg meestery where you two ‘ave bean.”
“Mebbe we all should set at the Saddle Up bar, have a think.”

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Home On the Ranch At Last Installment (Part III) by Miss Trie Writer

“Who gives a shift where dees two ‘ave bean?”
“Mon cheri!”
“Just sayeeng; dey’re here now.”
“I’m with Logatha. Characters wander. They wander back.”
“Okay, thank you Logatha an Wanda. Tip? Top? Any ideas?”
“Nope.”
“Not a one ‘twixt the two of us, Frankie.”
“Haven’t heard much from you Kid.”
“Feel dazed an confused, Frankie.”
“Ah ain’t rulin out alien deduction.”
“That’s it, Ernie!”
“Ain’t neither. Me an Kid weren’t beamed up.”
“No, but we kin let the readers an writers deduce where ya been, let the ranch community extract truth, extricate us from this endless misery.”
“Mystery.”
“Write.”

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

Up and Away

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

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

The Prison Cell by Hugh W. Roberts

Karl compared his life to a prison cell.

He’d done nothing wrong but fall in love, yet he couldn’t escape. Some people believed he belonged in hell. He was a threat to society and should never be allowed freedom.

“What’s the matter?” asked the uniformed prison guard.

“I need help escaping from this prison cell,” replied Karl.

“Come with me,” demanded the guard.

After a short walk to a large, stuffy sitting room, Karl got introduced.

“Mum, Dad. This is Karl, my boyfriend.”

Instantly, Karl’s life was up and away. He’d escaped the prison cell lodged in his head.

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Remembering Maya Angelou by Reena Saxena

Maya Angelou is the beautiful soul whom I never stop quoting.

The breadth and depth of her experience qualified her to be the star she was.

I came across an interesting fact about her death in 2014. Her son said she suffered from heart problems and pain caused by dancing.

I salute the soul who could dance at the age of 86 … she certainly knew “why the caged bird sings” and the peacock dances.

I wonder how many saw her soul rise up and above that day. I see her as the brightest guiding star whenever night falls.

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Within the White Wall by Anne Goodwin

You see a void, I see the cosmos in this imperfectly painted white wall. Brushstrokes are birds, blemishes mountains, as I dream, as I ponder and fly. My wheelchair’s a chariot, as I drive the horses, I sing them an aria to carry us up and away. Or it’s a balloon, not the kind on a card but filled with hot air raising a basket and we look down on the earth with a grin. If all you can see is a boy without speech without movement parked next to nothing, then it must be your perception that’s flawed.

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Up and Away! by Joanne Fisher

“Supergirl is up and away!” Jill’s been watching superhero movies lately, and now she’s dressed in a makeshift costume. To be honest the MCU and others have never much interested me, not when there is Star Wars, something Jill has never been interested in.

“Be careful!” I tell her as she runs around the living room narrowly avoiding shelves and tables.

“Watch me mummy!” Jill calls out as she runs into the backyard.

“Wait!”

“Up and away!” I hear her yell. I run out to the yard and she’s nowhere to be seen. I look up into the sky….

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Untold Tales by Simon

Feels like to fly up and away and disappear…. she whispers

Here talks the Pilot, Her brother made a comment.

She remains silent, he notices nothing but fiddle with his phone. He fails to notice the tear welled up on her eyes, her soul shatter while her ex passing the opposite holding tight the hands of his new girlfriend, she burnt herself alive from the inside.

Bus door opens. She sat inside the bus by the window, her blank face hid a sad story a deep scar no one can see.

Some Untold stories feels like burning alive forever.

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Eats on the Fly by Annette Rochelle Aben

The bag of birdseed on the park bench was top rolled down, wide open. Every once in a while, a frail hand lifted some out and scattered it on the pavement at her feet. The trees emptied as the birds swooped down to have their fill.

The bag under the park bench, empty and crumpled was where the old cat sat. Eyes became the size of saucers each time the birds came to dine. Every now and then, a wary paw would shoot out from under the bench. The trees would fill quickly as the birds hurriedly flew away.

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Up and Away by Marsha Ingrao

“We’re burning daylight here,”
Huh? It was HER 55th birthday, She wanted to luxuriate, to enjoy a mimosa, another of his delicious peppermint oil backrubs, the brush of sea-green silk sheets. She yawned and stretched.
Jimmy tugged her extended arm.
“Don’t forget your camera.”
An hour later, they stepped out of the hotel’s taxi service and walked up the ramp into the largest hot air balloon Vanessa had ever seen. Up and away they floated silently above the roar of cheetah and lion cubs playing in the jungle.
“Happy birthday, darling,” Jimmy said as they clicked their orange mimosas.

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Up and Away by Scott Bailey

The tropical sun bakes our shoulders, freckles our noses, bleaches our hair but we don’t mind. Tepid salt water, clear yet blue, splashes our skin as we wade the canoe to sea.

We paddle from the small island, across open water to the mainland, two bronze statues of youth, free, strong and confident, silently pulling pieces of ocean up and away from our paddles, propelling us forward.

She pauses, gazes back past me at the receding paradise. She’s resplendent against the sparkling water.

No matter how long I live, I will cherish the life and love we found there.

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Emma is Walking by Sue Spitulnik

Lexi hadn’t brought Emma to Irish dance class lately, so it was a treat when they arrived at the end of rehearsal. Lexi carried her around to say hello. When they reached Michael, she said, “Follow us onto the dance floor.” He didn’t understand why but did as requested. Lexi set Emma down, and the group watched as she took a few unsteady steps to her Grandpa. Everyone clapped their approval, and Scott, now working at the bar, went to the piano and started playing “Up, Up and Away.” Michael changed the words to, “There’s no stopping her now!”

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Stanley in The Graceful Garden Long Term Care Home by Bill Engleson

What’s that moaning? Spooky!
It’s Stanley.
What’s his problem?
He’s just a little out of it.
Jesus, it’s 1:30 in the morning. Everyone’s trying to sleep.
He’s not being a nuisance. Told him to keep it down.
Keep what down. Sounds like he’s in a pail of pain.
Nah…he’s just full of memories…
Memories?
Ha. Believe it or not, our Stan’s a former flower child.
A hippie?
Seems to be…keeps on singing a song…
Which song?
Old Fifth Dimension tune…Up Up and Away. First line’s…‘Would you like to ride in my beautiful balloon?’
Way before my time.
Mine too.

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Imagining Images (Spot on?) by JulesPaige

In the flames
Up and away; ash
One lost life
vanishes
How to reconstruct oneself
Perhaps with some help

Gertie Simple held the crock of tulips in her one arm, and gently knocked on the bedroom door of the girl who had introduced herself as Jane on the yacht. Would the girl use the fireplace to destroy her past identity? Gertie wasn’t born yesterday and just in case she needed them, had made copies of all the documents in the young woman’s purse. Including a sweet photo of two young girls in a meadow, one reading to the other.

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Energy Medicine by Ruchira

“How can I help you today?” asked the practitioner as she registered her client for her upcoming healing session.

“Oh! I’ve been having anxiety, lower back pain, and difficulty expressing myself,” said Kisna with a long deep sigh!

With a confident nod, Dolly gave a gentle smile and said, “I know exactly which chakra is acting up. Lay on the table, and I’ll be back to start your session.”

With dim lights and a piece of gentle background music, Dolly started brushing Kisna’s dense aura with a murmur, “Up and away!”

That was followed by chakra balancing and grounding.

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Up, Up and Away by Christine Bialczak

I held my breath at the sight of it. Those balloons! It brought me back to being a little girl, holding dad’s hand as he yelled, “Up, up and away!” as the beautiful balloons cut their tethers and lifted off the ground with fire blazing. The festival was our tradition, my dad and me, we went every year as far back as I can even remember. We should have gone up at least once, I think. At least I have the memories and know that he is floating somewhere watching me now. “Hey Dad, which balloon is your favorite?”

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It’ll Be Alright In The End… And If It’s Not Alright, It’s Not The End… by Geoff Le Pard

The funeral of Little Tittweaking stalwart Rodney Pearbollik was well attended. The mayor, on day release from the Home for the Terminally Bewildered joined Rodney’s extensive family.
The cremation service went without a hitch until finally the coffin slide between the curtains and Fate stepped in, stopping open the oven doors; the mourners gawped as flames engulfed the open casket and a superheated Rodney first sat up and then shot into the dark recesses of the oven.
‘Ah me,’ sighed his long suffering wife, ‘he was always the first to be up and away after he’d buggered things up.’

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Up and Away by Ann Edall-Robson

Slow movement starts the feeling of transporting to a mythical land. With eyes closed and breathing slow, relaxation mode sets in. There is comfort in the knowledge that the equipment needed for the pending job is hiding in plain sight. Nearby and within reach. Shaking and rumbling starts, yet still the eyes remain closed. The brain questions why, the mind answers with a simple, “Because.”

Up and away, the powerful engines roar. Camera now in hand ready to capture moments others may never get to experience. The window of the 737 becomes the portal to life from 30,000 feet.

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Shush by Sadje

Sometimes, life lands you in such situations that you’d just like to be magicked away from there like a balloon that floats up and away leaving everything behind.
A quarrel in the family or demand from someone you don’t like to disappoint but still cannot fulfill is such a quagmire situation that you’d wish to be extracted and spirited away. But unfortunately, we have to be there and resolve these problems like adults.
One solution I’ve found effective is to just pause; say or do nothing for a while. Some storms blow over if we don’t tamper with them.

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Cleared for Takeoff by Michael Fishman

This wasn’t his first mission, but that didn’t calm the butterflies. Each launch carried its own dangers, and as an experienced astronaut he knew the risks.

Major David planned on a safe voyage and landing, but was prepared should he find himself on an ice planet like Zeistorun, or worse, a prison planet like BL7130.

He took a deep breath when the countdown reached 10 seconds.

3… 2… 1…

“Up and away!” He jumped and landed with a thud on the wood floor.

“DAVEY!” came the call from Mission Control. “Are you jumping off your bed again?”

“Sorry, mom.”

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Up and Away by Norah Colvin

April placed a coin onto his palm.
“What will I make for you?”
“A magic balloon, please.”
He scanned her face, searched deep within her eyes, read her every wish.
“A magic balloon,” he said, selecting a dark blue.
He stretched it this way and that, then blew. As the balloon filled, the blue lightened and brightened. It shed sparkles that glistened in the sunlight. He knotted the end, held it out, then twisted and twirled and pulled it into a star.
He wound the ribbon around April’s wrist. “Up and away!” he whispered, as April was whisked aloft.

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Up Into the Sky by Nancy Brady

Aloysius, the white cat, liked to fly ever since he found the blue jay feather, which, when tucked behind his left ear, gave him the power to soar. He didn’t need to say the magic words, “up and away,” or need a beautiful balloon; he just needed his feather and his desire to fly.

When he flew, Aloysius felt so empowered that he almost felt like he ended up in a fifth dimension, a dimension where it was just sky filled with fluffy clouds and the sun shining on his fur. Returning to earth, though, was a pleasure, too.

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Disappeared 10 by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Andrew stood, patting his pockets for the matchbox, and noticed a hollow in the tunnel wall, the same size as the plaque of runes, gleaming on the oozing mudslide before him. He blinked, surprised. There were runes on the wall, as well!
Locating the matchbox in an inner jacket pocket, he opened and pulled one out, ready to strike. Just a little more light, and he could read them aloud.
Andrew struck, the match flared and extinguished. The box flew up and away, out of his hands.
He’d felt a blast of hot air, a single silent word: “Stop!”

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Runway No. Nine by Colleen M. Chesebro

Covid had taken its toll. My friend Clive succumbed to the disease. His funeral was small, and we all wore masks. I hovered close to Clive’s wife. Jean was my best friend.

We both cried when the service ended. I walked Jean outside.

“Have you figured out where you want the celebration of life held?” I asked.

Jean took her time answering. “Clive loved fixing airplanes. That was his soul’s desire, you know. I think we should scatter his ashes at the airport on runway number nine, his favorite. He always said he wanted to fly up and away.”

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Flying by Duane L Herrmann

I used to fly more often than now. I don’t know what has changed. My life? Certainly. But, would that stop my flying? I don’t know. I had many restrictions previously, now the only ones are residual, like habits I can’t break. Was the flying a way to escape those bounds? Is there a therapist who can tell me? Or, have I already figured it out? No matter the reason, I miss the flying, though I never knew when it might happen. I enjoyed it so much. Without preparation, I would suddenly be up and away in some dream.

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What’s Up? K & P Still Away (Part I) by Miss Trie Wrighter

While Frankie and Ernie mused on the mystery of missing ranch hands Kid and pal, spring sprang. At long last the rain and snow ceased falling, finally the sun shone. Like a flower bursting into bloom, Ernie had an idea.
“Hot air!”
“Yep, air’s considerably warmer now Ernie.”
“No. Pepe. He’s got a hot air balloon. Me and him will git in it an go up and away searchin fer Kid and Pal.”
“He an I.”
“Think it’d be better if me an him did this, Frankie.”
Frankie only hoped their slick sleuthing didn’t balloon into a basket case.

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What’s Up? K & P Still Away (Part I) by Miss Trie Wrighter

Frankie, Burt, Tip and Top Lemmon, and Wanda let go the ropes and watched Pepe and Ernie ascend into the clear blue skies over Carrot Ranch.
“Not ta be negative, but I don’t think they’re gonna find em. We already searched the ranch. What I think, is thet writer a theirs jist put her dang pen up an away an now they’re in Limbo.”
“Wanda, why would they be bendin over backwards unner a stick?”
“No Top, Limbo’s thet far gone dude ranch. Past Slim Chance’s place even.”
Meanwhile, in the basket, Ernie and Pepe pondered their next move.

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What’s Up? K & P Still Away (Part I) by Miss Trie Wrighter

“Pepe, ya sure ya kin keep this contraption in the air?”
“I have never run out of gas Ernie. Where shall we search for Keed and Pal?”
“Fictional characters disappeared from a virtual ranch… they could be anywhere. They could be nowhere. Mebbe Kid finely turned tail, went back east.”
“Keed leave dees ranch? Not when dere ees steel beer in da saloon. And Keed weel not leave Curly. Day are somewhere. We weel find dem.”
“Uh, Pepe, how d’ya steer these thangs?”
“I do not know. We weel have to go where da prompt leads. Up and away!”

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

Never Ending

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

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

Endless Sparks of Creativity by Anne Goodwin

“I can’t share it before it’s published, they might pinch my idea.”
“How could they? It’s like nicking your big toe.”
“Exactly. They’d be taking part of me.”
“You could wear your heavy boots so it’s harder to get at.”
“Hah bloody hah.”
“You’re not really worried, are you? What use is your idea to someone else? Like your toe, once they took it, it would be dead.”
“They could revive it, like Frankenstein’s monster.”
“Then it would be a different story. Filtered through their separate minds.”
“So I should submit my flash fiction?”
“Of course. Creativity never ends.”

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He Saw Himself Looking by Duane L Herrmann

He looked in the mirror and saw himself looking in the mirror and and saw himself looking in the mirror and and saw himself looking in the mirror and and saw himself looking in the mirror and and saw himself looking in the mirror and and saw himself looking in the mirror and and saw himself looking in the mirror and and saw himself looking in the mirror and and saw himself looking in the mirror and and saw himself looking in the mirror and and saw himself looking in the mirror and and saw himself looking in the…

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Never Ending by Ann Edall-Robson

Does it stop at the meadow’s edge, or the tree line along the ridge? Perhaps it’s where the horizon vanishes at day’s end, or at that point a slit of light starts a new day. Always welcome, this view from atop the hill, the home to the joyous sightings and sounds that the land brings. The evocative, earthy, smells segues into the connection of magical glimpses of all that graze this corridor, and dance on wings through the clouds. Resonating with the memories of those who rest here. Consummated by a never-ending love of life and the land.

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Never-ending Never-ending by Bill Engleson

Years ago, the train used to stop up the hill from my home. No depot. No ticket master. You’d stick out your thumb and the Dayliner would pull to a halt. You’d step onboard and head south to the Capital. Later that night, after a day in the city, you’d make the return journey.
It no longer runs but I hear the whistle blow every day.
I see myself hailing the iron horse, watch it stop, see myself get aboard.
Later I return up island and disembark.
I imagine I do this every day.
And will until I die.

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Always the Same by Michael Fishman

You sit in your parked trying to calm your pounding heart. You watch people walking in. You take a breath, pause, release slowly. Over and over.

Your body doesn’t listen. BOOMBOOMBOOMBOOM.

You reassure yourself. Relax, you say, you’re ok. it’s just—

But it doesn’t matter what “it’s just” because it’s always the same. It’s whatever today is and it doesn’t matter.

Breath, pause, release slowly. BOOMBOOMBOOMBOOM.

You start the car, pull out of the spot. BOOMBOOM

BOOM

Boom

boom.

Quiet.

You drive slow. You’re going home. You tell yourself it’s ok. You tell yourself you’ll try next time. Again.

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Means and Ends by Doug Jacquier

When she said to me our relationship was never-ending, my first thought was she’s saying ‘We’ll be together until death and beyond’. Later we had an argument over something I considered trivial and I started to wonder if she’d meant never-ending in the sense of ‘ongoing burden’. But then I cheered myself with thinking she’d meant ‘never’ ending, as in we could each stop saying ‘I’m never going to find someone who loves me’.

I’m probably over-thinking this. Of course the logical thing to do is just ask her but then I’d probably never hear the end of it.

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Mutation by Nancy Brady

It was a never-ending story, or so it seemed. It began late in December, but really took wing in March of the following year. Many people didn’t believe that it existed, or if it existed, it was not much of a threat. In fact, it was roundly denied by many of those who should have taken it seriously. But it was and they vehemently didn’t.

Then came the ramifications, the reality, and the rules, which were often ignored.

Three years it’s been now, and it still causes too many problems, and death. Covid-19 and its variants are still never-ending.

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Disappeared 8 by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Chuckie and Ducks were dropped back home at their mother’s, two days early. Stepdad mumbled about a work thing he couldn’t get out of.

Translation? The twins were too much, even for him.

With Mom and Andrew gone, Eloise was left alone with the twins. Now they’d found her hide-away under the willow tree. She dropped her head, despairing, clenching her jaw.

The branches thrashed. The two punched through into her sanctuary, singing, “This is the song that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friends!…”

Who the holy hell had exposed them to Shari and Lambchop?

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A Change of Attitude by Sue Spitulnik

Walking this dog is a pain. It’s my husband’s cute little lap dog except for when it’s walk time. Yeah, I get to smell the fresh air, flowers, and poop, but it’s never ending, never ending.

There’s war in Ukraine! The TV news images are simply horrifying.

“Come on Buttons, let’s go for a walk.” Look at that, the neighbors redid their front flower beds. The magnolias are bursting forth. “Good girl. That’s a nice firm poop today. Let’s wave to that old lady that peeks out her window. Thank God I can safely do this never ending chore.”

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The Death and Life of Bill by Hugh W. Roberts

“Will your book ever get published?” Peggy asked her husband.

“When it’s ready,” replied Bill.

“How long have you been writing it?

“Since I was seven.”

“Seven? What’s it about?”

“Death and life.”

“What? Does it have a title?”

“Never-ending.”

“Never-ending what?”

“Never-ending. That’s it.”

“Bit of a dumb title,” laughed Peggy.

7-years later, after Bill’s death, Peggy finally began reading her husband’s unpublished book online and soon realised it was his life story, but with a twist. He’d predicted his own death.

But the biggest shock to Peggy was that Bill’s never-ending story continued from beyond his grave.

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About Your Car’s Warranty by Gary A. Wilson

“What are you so upset about?”

“I got scam calls all weekend about my car’s warranty. As employees, we’re supposed to have exemptions built in. I shouldn’t have gotten any calls, so I started hanging up on all caller IDs.

“Five were from the hospital. My wife had been in an accident.

“I – HUNG – UP – ON – THEM – and she died before I got there.”

“It shouldn’t have happened.”

“Sorry man. That’s rough.”

“As their lead programmer, I’m feeding it right back. Our execs are going to get calls non-stop starting midnight. We’ll see how they like this never-ending scam.”

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The Never Ending Story by Joanne Fisher

“So I went over to Tasha’s place and we decided to go into town and meet up with Fuzz and Shev, but Tasha’s car wouldn’t start and we caught a bus, which took ages to come, so we were hella late. When we got to the bar only Fuzz was there. It turned out Shev hadn’t even turned up yet. So we had a few drinks and went to get something to eat, but Gazza surprisingly turned up, then we went into an alleyway…”

I sat there patiently listening to Janelle, wondering if her story actually had an ending…

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Never Ending Staircase by Simon

Don’t spill those pills on ground.

Is it magical? Is this why you were hiding it from us?

It’s kinda magical, it is evil, it will eventually kill you.

He stared at the pill, something magical happened, an evil possessed his grandson. He dropped the pills on the ground. A staircase grew pointed to the sky with a bag full of gold coins in the end.

Grandpa stared in awe, possessed with greed his grandson started to climb. The steps grew as he climbed and climbed and he kept on climbing.

Grandpa turned statue watching the never ending staircase.

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Heavenly Library by Kerry E.B. Black

In the Twilight Zone episode “Time Enough at Last,” all the main character wanted was to read, but life prevented it. An apocalypse occurred, and finally, he could do what he loved. However, as he’s about to do so, the myopic man breaks his glasses.

I felt bereft for him.

Then I consider the never-ending books available in this world, and I understand. If I spent every waking moment immersed in books, I wouldn’t put a dent in the wealth available. Rather than become discouraged, though, I’ll read all I can and imagine Heaven must have an amazing library.

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Dieting–No More by Sadje

Getting fit and going down to my ideal weight was a never-ending struggle for me.

Unbeknown to me, I had thyroid disease since my teenage which made my weight fluctuate periodically. At forty-four, I was diagnosed and became aware of its implications. Since then, I am on thyroid medication and ’til a year ago, I still was trying to lose weight, only to gain it all back eventually.

My motivation for losing weight has changed and the desire to look better has taken a backseat, to be healthy. Now I eat healthy, and keep my stats in the range.

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Promise Kept by Annette Rochelle Aben

“True love never ends.” Her fingers slowly traced the gold-embossed letters on a white napkin from their wedding 42 years ago.

White dress. White roses. White gold ring. White diamonds. White frosting on a white cake. Innocent symbols of hope for the promise of a never-ending love.

White paper signed in black ink dissolving the promise a mere nine years later.

A carefully folded white napkin fell out of a white envelope into her lap.

“If you are reading this, I have died. Even though our marriage couldn’t survive, my love for you never ended.”

Through tears, she smiled.

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Endless Wonder By JulesPaige

Exhaling
Never-ending pace
Of breathing
Inhaling
Taking one day at a time
In changing seasons

Jane saw the friendly fire… Well if she was starting new why not. She rummaged through her small bag, took out her Identification information and without even looking inside to confirm who she had been – tossed it in the fire. And with the poker stirred the ashes.

Someone was slowly walking down the hall. Were they coming to see her? Probably. Maybe it was the kind older woman – what was her name… Gertie… Simple. This situation wasn’t simple at all, would Gertie help her?

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Unending Cycle by Reena Saxena

“The Creator, Preserver and Destroyer,” he said with a smirk, “Don’t we all know the Trinity?”

“Yes. We do. It is an easily understandable concept. I strive to know if it is a straight line or circle. What happens after the End? Is there recreation, or only new creation?”

“Sounds like Copernicus saying the earth is spherical… he was condemned for his discovery.”

“Occult sciences arise from this point. They try to show a different world, but never give proof. And on and on it goes – the interest, discredit, ridicule and the gradual rise of a set of believers.”

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And On and On… by Geoff Le Pard

Tendentious Illomen lived to ninety. He never stopped arguing. Even dead, his hectoring continued, through a series of calls from an unknown number, each one a recorded blast of familiar abuse. Tendentious, buried in the family mausoleum had a phone, connected to a solar panel that never stopped calling. Little Tittweaking was at its wit’s end until Gibbon Tango, part-time hooligan and appalling performance poet called the number and began reciting his year-long epic blank verse ‘The Boil On My Bum’. After three weeks a small explosion was heard from inside the tomb and the calls ended.

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The Never Ending Winter (Double Ennead-99 syllables) by Colleen M. Chesebro

winter’s eternal chill
remains mantled in
unyielding leaden skies filled with sleety rain
while the goddess slumbers
readying for spring

it’s just one of those years
the farmers bellow
surveying wet fields glazed with inches of snow
soon our plows will furrow
and seedlets will grow

yet, winter’s unhurried—
infinite, it seems…
for beneath the Michigan soil, magic waits
the transition of time
until spring has sprung!

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The Rock-movers of Ee-arth by Leonard Mills

“Sir, we’ve established the planet’s name. Ee-arth.”
“And what do inhabitants of Ee-arth, do?”
“Baffling Sir, they’re pre-occupied with moving rock. It’s never-ending.”
“What?”
“Odd behaviour. They excavate vast quantities, crush it, remake into small squares, then transport it on a ‘boat’ (a slow spacecraft on water Sir), to elsewhere.”
“Then?”
“Put it back in the ground and call it ‘patio’. Then burn excavated fossilised plant, in a ritual called ‘barbecue’. Er, roughly translated to ‘cooked badly’ Sir.”
“Absurd!”
“Quite Sir. Shall move on to a more intelligent species, The Bugsnorters of Qaar?”
“Absolutely. Let’s hope they’re less wasteful.”

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Never Ending by Scott Bailey

We live in a finite world where everything has a beginning and therefore an end.

But as a young boy, asleep at night, I dreamt of running after, chasing a thing. It always floated out of reach, taunted me, made me want it. So close yet so elusive.

Years passed and it teased my dreams often.

Now an old man, dreaming of a childhood me, standing on a hill in a meadow when it appears before me. I reach out but tumble down. On my back at the bottom, it hovers above me. I reach up but it disappears.

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No End Ta the Mystery (Part I) by Miss Trie Wrighter

Leaving Pepe and Logatha at the bunkhouse, Frankie and old Burt trudged through the relentless rain on up to Ernie’s place.
“Howdy Frankie. Ya bringin mail in this wet mess?”
“No mail fer ya t’day, Ernie. Was wundrin if ya’ve seen Kid and Pal lately. Mebbe they’re holed up here?”
“No, I ain’t seen em. Figger they’d be hangin out at the saloon, what with all the goin-ons.”
“Ya’d think, but they ain’t been there. Ain’t been anywhere lately.”
“Mebbe their writer finally got em corralled and shut up.”
“She ain’t been around either, Ernie.”
“Mysterious!”
“Yep. Endless intrigue.”

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No End Ta the Mystery (Part II) by Miss Trie Wrighter

“Ain’t like them two ta be away from the ranch or the saloon. Reckon Shorty fired em?”
“Not likely. Everone’s welcome at Carrot Ranch, you know thet. Reckon thet also means folks is welcome ta mosey on.”
“Those yahoos wouldn’t. Couldn’t. Ain’t never seen characters more innertwined with place.”
“Mebbe thet writer a theirs jist stopped writin em.”
“Frankie, what happens ta characters thet don’t get writ no more? Do they…?”
“No! Once let onta the page fictional characters is immortal. Even have super powers, kin git transformed an emboldened by readers.”
“Like an endless string a yarn.”
“Yep.”

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

Water Falls

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

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

The Wrong Way to Grieve? by Anne Goodwin

When she didn’t cry at the hospital, they said it hadn’t hit her yet. When she didn’t cry at the funeral, they decided she was still in shock. But when they called in to check up on her and she remained dry eyed, they wondered if she really missed him, if their marriage had died before he did. Feeling redundant around her, they saw her less and less. So it was a while before they discovered she was on a psych ward. There, as her tears spilled how water falls, they said she should be over it by now.

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Eyes of the Waterfall by Hugh W. Roberts

Water flowed from the bottom to the top, yet everybody else told Miranda it flowed from top to bottom.

“Not true,” Miranda shouted as she snatched her hand away from her mother’s grip and strode across the shallow pool through the crystal-clear waterfall.

“Miranda! Come back now!” screamed her mother while watching her daughter get soaked.

Looking through the waterfall at her mother, Miranda noticed it flowed from top to bottom, but the strange, terrifying creatures looking back at her from the other side of the waterfall petrified her more.

Only when the waterfall stopped did Miranda’s nightmares begin.

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Disappeared 6 by Liz Husebye Hartmann

He hadn’t expected the transformation when he spoke aloud the words etched into the sewer wall. Nor were the words of the reversal spell anywhere near, certainly not in the crumbling mansion that’d been his home for the past decade. Or was it longer?

He sighed and the echoes whispered off the sewer’s bioluminescent walls. Wastewater flowed, a waterfall after last night’s storm, and turned back under the city, poisoning its groundwater.

Above him, a flashlight flickered, went dark, and was hurled with a metallic rattle and a man’s curse.

In that flash he saw a familiar image: himself?

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Water Falls by Duane L Herrmann

Water, what normally rests in a pond or lake or bucket, can sometimes fall. It can fall out of the nothingness of the sky, nothingness except for clouds, though occassionally the cloud might be unseen. Water falls! What a miracle!! Water falling is part of the cycle we can see: the rising, we can’t see. Rising, falling: water is always cycling. That should be a lesson: all things cycle, all things change, yet all things remain the same. Water falls, water rests. We should rest too, from time to time. Water falls. In my time, I, too, will fall.

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Pot, Kettle by Gloria McBreen

She calls me black; I say the same back.
She’s older than me, jealous you see.
Water falls piping from my curvy spout,
she splatters and drips from her tiny pout.
She’s boring and plain, I’m impressive and vain.
I’ve come so far since days of old,
I shine like silver and sometimes gold.
I can be tall, small, skinny or fat,
Mrs Pot; she’s not all that.
I whistle and sing, I let off steam,
I invite Mr Teapot to join my team.
Teapot and kettle on proud display,
while Mrs Pot to her dismay, stays hidden away.

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Water Falls by Ann Edall-Robson

Spray lingers on the branches, droplets fly through the air to pools below. Soothing babble navigate nature, a language few take time to recognize or learn. Wild watercress floating, seemingly unattached, shadowing the craggy tufa rocks, nurtured by drenched, decaying foliage. Fall adds to the creek bed cushion. Spring pushes new life to the surface. Summer blooms along the shore. Winter shows off ice sculptures artistically designed from the water’s mist. The creek never freezes over, its life taking on a new persona each season as the water falls with grace and aggression over terraces of historic tufa rocks.

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It’s a Trap! by Joanne Fisher

“There must be some way out of here!” Yelmys said to herself as she watched the rising water.

She had sneaked into these caverns searching for fabled treasure. After creeping into this room, the door slammed behind her and water began to cascade in. She tried opening the door, but it wouldn’t budge. What diabolical genius had devised this trap, she wondered. As she stood there watching the water fall, she knew if she was ever going to find a way to escape this room, she had better do it quickly, the water would soon be over her head…

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Water Falls by Charli Mills

Water falls through the hatch. Unsecured cargo slams into lashed barrels and crates. Roaring seas drown Minnie’s whimpers. She huddles in a bunk, her muslin dress sodden. Three rats cling to her hem and she tries not to hurt them when waves batter the groaning ship. She had only meant to steal food. An accidental stowaway. Will her brothers mourn or rejoice her unexplained disappearance from Copper Harbor? The lone girl among six orphans, her elder brothers labored underground to barely feed them all. Water falls. The hatch crumples. Minnie keeps the rat that survives the wreck with her.

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How Aloysius Got His Name by Nancy Brady

Aloysius, the white cat enjoyed seeing new things and having adventures.

One sunny day Aloysius headed for the nearby woods. He’d been close to the woods, but had never ventured within. He wandered across the black horse’s field, crossing the bridge into the woods.

Two paths branched off, and Aloysius chose the left. He found himself walking beside the creek. The water gurgled over rocks. Up ahead is a cataract. The water falls over the rocks, splashing his fur.

Shaking himself free of the droplets, the sun sparkles on his fur producing the colors that gave Aloysius his name.

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Willing to Pool Resources (Spot On?) by JulesPaige

Salted water falls from her eyes. The old pink rotary phone only clicks its imaginary tongue. Reprimanding her as if she were a child. Gertie dreamed that she is much older than now. Like when her grandmother was blinded and consumed by age. Knowing she is so much stronger than any old technology or outdated political agendas, Gertie Simple vows to herself to keep Jane safe.

Gertie knows she’ll get needed help with regards to that task. She mentally vows to call her own daughters soon. At Jane’s bedroom door Gertie pauses, tears from Jane should be for relief.

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Mac’s Story (Part I) by Sue Spitulnik

Join the Army they said
You’ll become a MAN
Little did “they” know
I became like a drop of water

In a pool of soldiers
Giving up identities
Losing our roots
Creating an everlasting bond

Running together
Thinking as one
We shipped out as a unit
To the jungles of Vietnam

Heavy survival packs
Weighted down with ammo
We followed orders
Though we didn’t believe

We ate little
We slept little
We had no baths
Why are we here

Go take the mountain
We moved as droplets
Seeing when the water falls
It doesn’t run clear. It runs RED

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Mac’s Story (Part II) by Sue Spitulnik

I survived the mountain
And others after that
My comrades fell
Running red

I had the chance to love
Producing a beautiful son
Unaccepted by his grandfather
We were sent away

My survival was for him
Our own country turned on us
The caring lady Nan was not deterred
She loved us both

Shunning the scoffers
We opened our lives
Helping other veterans
Looking for no thanks

A vacation to Niagara Falls
One winter season
Went terribly wrong
Red lights shining on water

Sent my mind spinning
To horrible killing fields
I barely survived
I’m sorry. I hate waterfalls

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Water and Time Falling Away by Bill Engleson

And there you go. A walk in the park. Easy peasy. Yeah, we went for a walk in the park one early fall day. Autumn on the cusp. Crinkly leaves. And that roar. Growling water rushing! Not as noisy as spring runoff but still chugging away like an old locomotive.

There were fewer people than expected. Most had dogs, big dogs, a couple not on leashes, running ahead of their handlers, sniffing, snorting, excited like toddlers.

We finally arrived at the Falls, and stood there, mesmerized as always.

“Splendour in the Grass?” she said.

“I remember,” I answered.

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Reaching for Stars by Colleen Chesebro

Alone in the cocoon of my dreams, I listen for the murmurs of the marsh fairies. For now, is not the time to be all in my head. I must also listen to my heart. Here, I fish for stars—those promises shimmer in starry pearlescence beneath the water. I stretch, grab, and fail, but I never stop trying.

hot tears—water falls
in the autumn of our years
farewell songs explain
dreams together fade away
a slow ripple on the pond

Reconciliation feels elusive. I’ll follow you anywhere or leave you behind. The choice is up to you.

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When The Waters Call, Do You Answer? by Miss Judy

Rachel looked over at the churning Niagara; it fell in thundering torrents over the rocky cliffs.
She knew of his affair, he of hers. The gold band burned, a constant reminder of their love, long lost. Why still wear it? Pretenses for family and friends? Her friends knew the lies. They urged her to leave. How could she?

Go where? Do what? The questions always a torment.

The falling water called, “Come fall with me. End it here, now.” Many had. Startled awake, she knew, “Get out before…”

Rachel pulled off the ring and threw, “I’m done. I’m free.”

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Falling Waterfalls by Gypsie Ami Offenbacher-Ferris

it slides over soft mounds
riding a short hallow plain
before hitting the high ridge
only to cascade down down
becoming droplets of sorrow
or rivers of pain

one river begets another
and another until soon
hundreds of waterfalls form
no one is immune
young nor old
a torrent begins – unstoppable

pain – grief – betrayal feed
the waterfalls bulging
with the tears of the lost
the neglected – unable
to hold back the floodgates
released by crescent lips

cascading into nothingness
weighed by waterfalls
filled to capacity with tears
of unrequited love, with loss
of friends – of lives – loss of self

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Changing with Gentleness by Sadje

Some say that gentleness is wasted on the hard-headed, hard-hearted people, but like the drip of the water falling slowly on stones, it does have an impact.

People quote the example of Sara’s dad, Ethan. He was a proud haughty man and Sara was the exact opposite. Over the years, after her mom passed away, she changed her callous father into a gentle man just by being herself, a sweet kind person.

When he shouted, she replied calmly, when he was angry, she was unperturbed. He’s now grateful to her for showing her how to be a good person.

🥕🥕🥕

Rain by Saifun Hassam

The rain is coming down in sheets. It’s late winter and the rain is cold. Still, I can’t complain. I was born in Texas and grew up in California. I remember flood and fire. Some winters, and springs, there was essentially no rain. One time I lived in an old trailer home. That spring, it rained hard, every week. The roof leaked like a sieve.

The mountains are shrouded in impenetrable clouds. Their glaciers are melting, stealthily, inch by inch. Crevasses tear the glaciers apart. In summer, water falls, drop by drop, over the serrated edges into the abyss.

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Water Falls by Norah Colvin

The water fell, gently at first then obstinately, in unrelenting torrents, like uncontainable tears from a sky in mourning. A ‘rain bomb’, they said, a ‘one in one hundred years event’. It swelled the rivers and flooded the lands mercilessly, taking lives and homes and destroying livelihoods. Water from dams filled beyond capacity cascaded over spillways, intensifying the deluge. A supercharged natural event not experienced before, never expected again. When the sky opened just a few years later, crying those same mournful tears of loss and destruction, surely the denials would cease. As indisputable that water falls, they didn’t.

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An Unromantic Waterfall by The Curious Archaeologist

It was not what she had expected, on a honeymoon in the Alps you admired waterfalls, perhaps sketched them. What you did not do was stand beside your new husband as he measured the temperature of the water at the top of the fall, and noted down the figures his friend shouted up from the bottom.

“The water is warmer at the bottom of the waterfall,” his friend told her, “he is proving that heat is produced from motion. Mrs Joule, your name will be famous.”

She doubted it.

She was wrong.

Joule = the international unit of energy.

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Water Falls by E.M. Kingston

The fresh water falls upon my head, cleansing away the impurities

The falls’ water fed graciously from the rains from above, heavenly

The mountain’s rough rocks wash the water as it falls, refreshing

Turns the plants green and makes the flowers blossom, renewed

Freshness, replenishment, natural exhilaration for you and me

My skin dances in the crashes of water upon my skin, ahh

Nature’s shower in botany, untamed beauty

Bliss becomes a brand new playground

One no one would want to leave

Not me, not you, not them

Water falls upon me

With the birds

I sing to me

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Water Falls by Scott Bailey

Oh, I’m sure physics can explain it but I don’t want to hear that. I don’t want to know whether that raindrop disappeared when it fell into that puddle or if it still exists but in a different shape.

Would it rather have fallen in the grass instead of the driveway? Falling from the sky must be scary, poor raindrop. I wonder if the landing hurts? Does the puddle feel it? Does the puddle mind the visiter?

An oily sheen on the surface of the puddle, I bet the raindrop didn’t count on landing in that! Poor little guy.

🥕🥕🥕

Sometimes When Water Falls by Gary A. Wilson

What a mess! I thought.

Darn hail –but what’s this?

I bent to look closer and yes; the blasted stone — was steaming.

How’s that possible?

I recalled how: in the turbulence at the leading edge of storms,

water churns up and down,

freezing each round,

layering more water on each lap until the weight is sufficient and the frozen water falls.

But steam?

Really?

Ah; I recalled; some science class mentioned this.

If conditions are right,

warmer days, bright sunlight,

hail doesn’t melt into water but jumps, sublimating straight to steam.

Very cool, but my windshield is still destroyed.

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Unwelcome Fame by Geoff Le Pard

Little Tittweaking had nothing famous, unless you count the occupier of No.27 The Droobes. When yet another queue formed outside word, PC Roger Andout, with measured treat plodded round. ‘Move on, please. I know your guide book says this is where you’ll find Little Tittweaking’s famous waterfalls but you won’t. The topography is all wrong for starters.’

As they crowd left, Roger knocked on the door. ‘They’ve gone.’

Walter Fauls peered out nervously. When he was sure they were alone he ushered Roger inside. ‘Tea?’

‘It will stop one day, Walter.’

‘Until then it’s all uphill I guess.’

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A Dry Year by Margaret Leggatt

The dam’s drying up. As kids we’d go rafting and jump in, trying to touch bottom. We never could.

Good years. Until Harry arrived.

“Don’t,” Mother warned. I didn’t listen.

Then came a hot Sunday afternoon. He took the boys rafting—his drunken attempt to play dad. They came home alone, crying, and I ran toward his shouts, then stopped, waited for silence.

I turned back and phoned for help.

When the level of the water falls below that rocky layer in the dam wall, the cattle get bogged. I come here to check, dreading what might be revealed.

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Sun and Water by Reena Saxena

Water falls, because a gravitational force pulls it down. In the right atmosphere, it vaporizes to steam and moves upwards. It chooses when, where and how to fall. Water freezes. You are able to walk on snow with the right boots. Your homes are not ravaged by floods.

forces
all-pervasive
combine to make you feel
powerless, when Sun joins hands with
water

She looks up from the screen, and finds the Sun winking at her. It’s time to start a new routine in lovely sundresses.

concealed
sun-starved beauty
emerges from layers
to make its presence felt. Nature
shows all

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A Musical Night by Ruchira Khanna

“I see a clear sky. The rainy season is behind us!” said Mali with a breath of sigh!

“We can now sleep in peace,” clapped an elated ten-year-old Loli.

“The pitter-patter and the mosquitoes have gone with it.”

“Yes!”

The mother-daughter finished their only meal of the day, consisting of broth and bread.

The duo lay on their cots, and the mom was about to hit the snooze button when the tip-tap noise widened her eyes, and she looked at her leaky roof.

“Ugh! get the utensils, Loli. Courtesy of the water fall; tonight will be another musical night.”

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Rain Falls by Anita Dawes

I care less where it comes from
Only that it comes
Liquid magic from above
Tiny drops that cling
To the edge of a leaf
A jewel that remains for hours
While others disappear
Watch the birds taking a bath
Creating perfect dancing spheres
Of liquid magic
That drop into the pool
Waiting to dance again
Where would we be without it?
No puddles to splash in
No boating holidays
No lounging by the sea
Life cannot be without it
I cannot be without it
Best of all, rain on my window
Watching each drop race down…

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Water Falls (Part I) by Miss Trie Wrighter

Though it’d been claimed that neither rain nor snow nor dark of night (or some such things) were to keep her from her appointed rounds, the rain was falling something fierce. Frankie led Burt onto the veranda of the bunkhouse where the old horse gratefully shook himself. Frankie looked back through the veil of water falling from the eves. Two figures emerged in the mist—

“Pepe! Logatha! Git up here outta that torrent.”

“Are day here?”

“Nope.”

“Day are not in de barn, day have not been by da saloon. Shorty hasn’t heard anyteeng. Keed and Pal are gone!”

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Water Falls (Part II) by Miss Trie Wrighter

Frankie used her handkerchief to dry her eye while musing on the disappearance of Kid and Pal. She reached into the mail pouch to show the LeGumes what might or might not be a clue.

“Eet ees a post card. What does eet say?”

“The ink has run in the rain.”

“Yes, dees card ees poorly wreeten.”

“All I kin make out is Dear Ranc…”

“Rancid? No! Ranchers! Dear Ranchers… and look, eet is signed DAVE. Den eet ees blurry again.”

“Dave? D. Avery! She must know something.”

“Not so much, I teenk, Frankie. And she ees gone too.”

🥕🥕🥕

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

Baby Ducks Ate My Lunch Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

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

What the Duck! by Greg Glazebrook

Bobby sat at the riverbank looking at her phone when she grabbed a nearby duckling and popped it between two slices of bread.

Angelina watched in horror as Bobby started to bite down on the quacking sandwich. “What’re you doing!?!?”

To the duckling’s relief, she pull the sandwich out and said, “Research for Carrot Ranch’s writing challenge.”

Angelina shot her a confused look…

See it says, “Write a story explaining why you ate baby ducks for lunch.”

“Ummm, no Bobby, it says ‘…explain baby ducks ate my lunch.’ You really need new strategies to keep your dyslexia in check!”

🥕🥕🥕

Disappeared 4 by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Andrew had been happy his first few years of life: just him, Mom, Dad. He was happy when Eloise was born, although Dad quickly faded out of the picture. Later came a stepdad, quickly followed up by the twin girls, Chuckie and Ducks.

Still, Andrew hoped they could all live peacefully together. The twins were almost cute before they became mobile. But once they started moving? Wow.

Toys? Attention? Food? The roaring twins claimed all, and were never at fault. The day Ducks ate his lunch, Eloise just stood by, cradling her own PB&J.

He knew all was lost.

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Sweet Crocodile by Doug Jacquier

That skinny German tourist’s leg didn’t really agree with me yesterday. Mostly gristle and I’ve still got lederhosen stuck in my teeth. Parked the rest of him under a log for a few days to mature.

Still feeling a pit peckish. Saw a mother duck and brood floating past. I thought ‘Yum, baby ducks’. Ate my lunch and had a nap in the sun on the river bank. Later, mother duck came back searching for her ducklings. She looked so distressed I put her out of her misery.

Sentimental I know but that’s just the sweet guy I am.

🥕🥕🥕

Aloysius Loses His Lunch by Nancy Brady

One afternoon Aloysius met the pigs at the duck pond. The pigs loved to soak in the cool water although that wasn’t the white cat’s idea of fun.

He avoided getting soaked if he could, but sometimes it was unavoidable. The ducklings splashed everyone in their quest for food.

Their appetites were voracious; they were eating everything in sight including Aloysius’s kibble. Because of their splashing, he was cleaning water droplets off his fur. He finished his bath, turned to eat, but discovered his lunch was gone.

“You ate my lunch,” he said, but the ducklings just quacked up.

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A Fine Lunch by Saifun Hassam

One spring day at the lagoon, I shared a fallen log with five ducklings. I was frequently there in the spring, sketching the changing scenery from mallards, coots, goldeneyes, and regal swans to the unexpected appearance of wood ducks.

The baby ducks huddled near one end of the log. I sat at the other end. Curious, they waddled over, pecking at my boots and backpack. Two studied my sketch of cygnets. The “lunch” bag of fruit and nuts fell off the log. For a few seconds, they were startled. I sketched away as the ducklings tasted this fine food.

🥕🥕🥕

Baby Ducks Ate My Lunch by Norah Colvin

A wail fractured the picture-perfect ‘Freedom Day’, the first outing since lockdown began aeons ago.
Father’s mind wandered like the lonely cloud contrasted against the vivid sky, contemplating nothing—no lessons, no video calls, no demands for something to eat or do. Mother absentmindedly stroked his hair as she inhaled the freshness of the sunshine and the scent of nearby gardenias. The children entertained themselves—what luxury—feeding ducks with days-old bread.
The wail amplified, like an approaching train, finally demanding Father’s and Mother’s attention. “What’s wrong?”
“Baby ducks ate my lunch,” wailed the younger. The older one shrugged.

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Baby Ducks Vs Me by Sadje

Mom always gave me something to eat when I went out every day. I placed my packet on the bench for safekeeping.
I didn’t pay any heed to the fact that it was now spring season and all kind of baby animals were making their appearances. Our goat had her kids and the duck who had been guarding her clutch of eggs for the last four weeks was now parading around with a row of fluffy ducklings in tow.
Imagine my shock when reaching for my lunch, all I found were baby ducks busy nibbling my sandwich and cookies.

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Foul Deeds by Geoff Le Pard

Little Tittweaking’s local paper, The Devourer tended to the sensational. Headline’s such as Marchibanks Hazmat Made My Toes Radioactive and Alien’s Invaded My Breakfast were commonplace. When Dubious Pendragon, active in the Votes For Foul campaign that sought representation for the local minorities of waterbirds made the front page, it was a sensational report, quoting her as having said she had had the Mallards for lunch. She was livid, demanding an immediate correction. ‘I didn’t eat them,’ she fumed. ‘I invited their family for a chickweed pie and chat. Seeing the fledglings clean their plates was a delight.’

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Baby Ducks Ate Your Lunch! by Joanne Fisher

“Aw! Look at those baby ducks. So cute!” Cindy exclaimed. “Here we go my cuties.”

“What are you doing?” Jess asked.

“Feeding them my sandwiches.”

“You shouldn’t be feeding ducklings bread. It’s not good for them.”

“What should I be feeding them?” Cindy asked.

“Corn, peas, rice. Stuff like that.” Jess informed her.

“We don’t have that in our picnic basket.” Cindy continued feeding them her food.

“Well I tried…”

Some time later Cindy rummaged through the picnic basket. “I’m still hungry, but there’s no food left.” she complained.

“That’s because you fed your lunch to the baby ducks.”

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Bon Appetit by Colleen Chesebro

“Mom, Hancock ate my lunch again.”

Stacy placed her hands on her hips, and I noted the teenage angst and attitude in her stance.

“Hancock gets hungry. He has a tough job guarding the henhouse, you know.”

“What about me? I’m hungry too!” She stomped off.

Stacy could wait. I didn’t need another sick dog.

I stepped outside into a cold Michigan rain. Napkins littered the grass near the henhouse. Hancock was nowhere in sight. Darn dog.

That’s when I spotted a waddle of fluffy baby ducks devouring the remains of Stacy’s lunch.

Bon Appetite, I laughed.

🥕🥕🥕

Growing Duckies by Kerry E.B. Black

The plate hosted crumbs, remnants of a delicious PB&J on homemade white bread. Sonia looked at her small charge, eyebrows raised.

“Any idea what happened to my sandwich?”

Four-year-old Patty considered the matter with the innocence of a saint. Her mouth formed a little “o” of surprise, dislodging tiny golden flakes when she shook her head. “I bet it was the duckies.”

“Duckies?”

“Uh huh. They must have been really hungry.”

“Where do the duckies live?”

Patty opened wide and pointed between her lips.

“I’ll make another sandwich. You want one?”

“No.” Patty smiled. “But the duckies do.”

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A Central Park Caper by Sue Spitulnik

Michael and Tessa stopped in a bakery and bought two huge croissants. They then went out into the sunshine and hailed a carriage to take them to Central Park, where they got dropped off. Finding an empty bench near the turtle pond, they sat to people watch. Michael set the bakery bag on the ground. They became so engrossed enjoying the noisy children making a fuss over the turtles and ducks they didn’t notice a Mama duck steal their bag. Tessa heard paper tearing, turned to look, and exclaimed, “I guess the ducklings are going to eat our lunch.”

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Quack by Michael Fishman

The baby ducks they ate my lunch
and I really can’t explain it.

The thought is so upsetting
that I will not entertain it.

My food, my food, my food, mine!
Leave it alone and we’ll be fine.

Those baby ducks, bright yellow,
oh they looked so doggone sweet.

But they ate my peanut butter
like it was warm grub meat.

My food, my food, my food, mine!
Leave it alone and we’ll be fine.

The moral of this ditty
(if it really does require it)
is to leave my food alone. Why?
Oh! Just cuz I desire it.

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Learning Curve by D. Avery

“You’re keeping that Pickett boy after school? Don’t waste your time. Picketts are lazy liars. He actually says that a goat eats his homework.”

“It’s plausible,” said Mrs. K. “His family does raise animals.”

“You mean they live in a pigsty. And today in the cafeteria he wouldn’t eat, just sat there, said he usually brings lunch from home but that baby ducks ate it. Baby ducks!”

Mrs. K sighed as her colleague left. Then she went to her snack drawer, more concerned with what the ducks ate than what the goat ate, whether there were ducks or not.

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Miss Parker by Gloria McBreen

Miss Parker is a nice teacher. When I told her I lost my coat pockets, she knew I lied. She knew my mammy sewed them up.
When I told her I lost the gloves she knitted for me, she knew my mammy took them.
And when I told her that the baby ducks ate my lunch, she knew I didn’t have any in the first place.
When I told her my mammy was gone away to find my daddy; she knew it wasn’t true. She knew my mother was gone for good.
I like my new mammy, Miss Parker.

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Off to the Pond by E.A. Colquitt

I like to walk here in spring. The world is awake, but not with any dizzying summer heat. It’s a time of freshness – and youth.

‘Think we’ll see a duckling, buddy?’

‘A what?’

‘A duckling. Baby ducks. Look! There’s some, now.’

They flow along the pavement as if still in the water, chasing their mother’s wake. She knows the safest way home: the zebra crossing. Its golden beacons match her babies’ coats.

We follow. The pond lies by a bench, where anyone can eat. Today’s lunch is rice, peas, and sweetcorn. You like to share it with the ducks.

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Fear of Flying by Anne Goodwin

A line of custard-yellow pom-poms waddling to the water: those ducklings are braver than me. I envy them a mother they can place their trust in: she’ll ensure they can float before they take wing.

I’ve let Simon think I’m scared of flying, when my terror is of drowning in shame. So we sit on this bench between the tennis courts and boating pool, not eating our sandwiches, chewing over everything save why I can’t follow him, why I can’t board a plane. I wish I could be better, kinder, more generous. I feed the baby ducks my lunch.

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Baby Ducks Ate My Lunch by Scott Bailey

My LUNar CHief (LUNCH for short) gave the ok to open the hatch. I led LUNCH and DESSERT (DEfense and SEaRTch team captain) from the lander to explore this giant world.

Green grass tall as trees, pebbles big as boulders. Bright blue sky, air clear and warm. Idyllic and peaceful, I thought, until I saw them.

Giant fluffy yellow bipedal beings. They saw us too, and all heck broke loose! We ran for the spaceship but they closed upon us. LUNCH tripped and fell but DESSERT and I dove into the ship and took off. The giants ate LUNCH.

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Duckling Survival Guide by Gypsie~Ami Offenbacher-Ferris

“These creatures are quite ruthless in their pursuit of breakfast, lunch or dinner. They will not give up until they have a tasty treat in their little beaks; mainly me! They are ravenous little beings whose only purpose on this Earth is to eat me and those like me.

My name is Georgio Piccolo Francis Worm and I am, a worm. Thus the name. I’ve survived the longest, so was chosen to teach the little wormettes how to remain free of a certain death by mastication, although the little chicks do not actually chew how horrible to be …. Aheeeeeeeeeeee!!!”

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Baby Duck and Cover by Bill Engleson

Some days I get so hungry.
I have been expecting this all my life.
You know, expecting it like three squares
but knowing it was beyond the pale.
I mean, sure, we knew about…
Hiroshima!
Nagasaki!
So many dead we couldn’t count them.
The way bodies get fused.
It couldn’t happen again,
YET…
radioactive dust swirls towards me.
A ditty comes to mind:
“Hey, my baby, duck and cover,
I didn’t think she’d be so loud.
Hey, my baby, lets discover
the pleasures of a nuclear shroud.
Hey, my baby, meet my atomic lover,
she’s a beautiful mushroom cloud.”

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Ducklings Dine by Ann Edall-Robson

Walking along the water to the spot she had left her belongings, the young woman didn’t know who was more surprised when she came upon ducklings scattering like fluff in the wind. Their trail, marked by the waving grass and the sound of rustling reeds before hearing a plop, plop, plop. Miniature tsunami waves pushed back to the shore where they’d jumped from the bank into the water. Seeing their mother waddling away with a crust of bread in her mouth, she knew they had all come ashore to dine on her lunch she’d left behind in her pack.

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Trip and Fall by Christine Bialczak

Walking from work was better for my wallet. Sometimes I would walk through the park. Today was one of those days.
I didn’t see the root sticking up from the sidewalk. Next thing I knew I was falling forward, hoping to catch my fall, watching all of the contents of my bag fly out in front of me. Without a minute to think a baby duck rushed to my bag, and grabbing the sandwich with its tiny beak, ate my whole sandwich! Luckily I was headed home. Now I needed a few bandaids, a nap, and a new lunch!

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Caring is Sharing by JulesPaige

Blond wee ducks from the mud
Fair their gold down plume
Soft cheep their voice press; spare some fine bread crumb please
From the lake, blond we ducks
Down plume fair and gold

Ma would have us eat worms
They slide down bland like
Old mush, we want your lunch won’t you share, be kind
Be gone bland, shoe lace taste
No more worms for us

From my own perch, big sigh
How could I not share
So bit by bit I tore lose my home made bread
their beaks did grab and gulp
Big sigh, wee ducks ate!

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One Memorable Day by Duane L Herrmann

It was a memorable day. I looked out my bedroom window and saw cows in the front yard. They didn’t belong there, but where? A neighbor’s gate was open, he wasn’t home, and I was able to lure them back in. A passing bird was too excited and splattered on my head. There had been no time for breakfast so I tried for lunch instead. After it was ready, a phone emergency arose and took an hour to resolve. While sorting out the crisis, baby ducks came from the pond and ate my lunch. I went back to bed!

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Mottle Behavior by Frank James

Mottled Ducks swooped onto the retention pond where I ate lunch, feeding a gaggle of Muscovy Ducks. Ducklings scattered. One scampered into cattails. Emaciated Mottles paddled in the water.
I left my lunch on the bench walking to the cattails hollering, “Ducky! Ducky!” Mama duck honked at me and herded ducklings, flushing the rogue out. She pecked him on the head, and we all waddled to the bench.
There, the Mottles flopped backwards, holding their bellies. One almost had a smile.
I looked at the bench with litter shredded. Confused, I reached for lunch to see I was robbed.

🥕🥕🥕

Sweet Bribe by Simon

Ducks! he yelled.
What ?
They ate my lunch.
Why did you feed them our food?
It’s not intentional, they just ate it.
The duck from the pond left their fishes and ate bread?
You think I’m making a story?
Yes you are, you came home after years of service to the nation, and this is what you do? lie to your wife?
She and her bread… he murmured
What?
It tasted good!
So you shared them? right?
Honey! forget it, how about these french fries, chicken wings.
I hate Bribes, but, it’s sweet!
No! it’s spicy! (Giggles)., that’s sweet.

🥕🥕🥕

Chaos in the Home Office by Gary A. Wilson Stories

“Hi Michael, thanks for the zoom conference. I’m just starting lunch.”
“No worries. We’re anxious to get you back in the office. How’s the forecast?”
“All ready to scan.”
“Wonderful. Can… “
“Daddy, mommy needs you.”
“Sorry. Give me a sec.”
“Hello Lilly. Who’s that?”
“He’s, Bertie, my duckling. Nooo — Morris! Get out — bad doggy.”
“Lilly, don’t leave Bertie… Lilly?
“Martin! Can you hear me? Bertie’s destroying your desktop.”

– – = = * = = – –

“Okay; I’m… W-what’s this…? Bertie! Out with you!
“Michael, let me salvage what’s left and I’ll be there in an hour.”

🥕🥕🥕

Peaceful Easy Feedin by D. Avery

“Was down ta the creek, Pal. Jist watchin the river flow, all peaceful.”

“Hmmf. Doin thet Kid-hartha thing agin. Was the north goin ducks still there?”

“Nope, all flown on, cept fer a momma mallard an her ducklins.”

“Cain’t be, ain’t been time fer thet.”

“Power a fiction, Pal, suspen yer disbelief. Anyways, that’s where the peace come from. Ducklins peepin, ‘Peace, peace, peace’. I watched. Fed em my lunch.”

“Thet was foolish.”

“I kin spare it. Thinkin if hope is the thing with feathers, it must start out downy soft like a ducklin, swimmin afore flyin. Worth feedin.”

🥕🥕🥕

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

Disappearance Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

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

Meeting Truth by Reena Saxena

“Have you heard the story where Truth and Lies go for a swim in a pond? Lies jumps out and disappears wearing Truth’s clothes. Since then, Lies masquerade as Truth all over, and Truth is too embarrassed to come out of the pond.”

“What makes you think of the parable now?”

“Well, I met Truth yesterday. He says you deserve what you get if you value people by the clothes they wear. It’s your soul that disappeared from well-camouflaged bodies.”

“How did you meet Truth?”

“I bared my soul and am willing to admit that I made a mistake.”

🥕🥕🥕

Where’d It Go? by Michael Fishman

Roll over, turn off the alarm. Shower, brush, dress. Make lunch.

Repeat times five, let cool for 48 hours and repeat for 20, 40, 60 or however many years.

Day after day after day. Weeks pass into years into decades.

The changes are so gradual as to be invisible. Some of them, like the need for a larger belt, bubble to the surface while others are more subtle. It wasn’t until around year 50-ish when I was stuffing my pants with a wallet and keys that I wondered why I still carried a comb. Where had it all gone?

🥕🥕🥕

The Last of Adam by Hugh W. Roberts

Adam watched time disappear, but he also witnessed his life slowly disappearing.

“Where am I? Why can’t I see?” he bearly whispered.

The final thing Adam remembered was being a passenger in his girlfriend’s new car. She’d just passed her driving test. Had the truck been on the wrong side of the road?

The faint sound of sobbing and two familiar voices began to disappear gradually.

“Are you sure he’s dead, mother?”

“No, but it won’t take long. Adam will never escape from the coffin we’ve buried him in,” she said, looking down at the grave. “You’re safe again.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Ghost in the Machine by Colleen M. Chesebro

“I’m not kidding, Charlene. My blog was there one minute and gone the next.”

“No way. Now what?”

“I’ve had so many problems with my blog. Yesterday, I contacted ProsePress, and they had an engineer look at the coding. Apparently, there was a ghost in the machine.”

“What’s that?”

“It’s complicated, but a ghost in the machine refers to the virtual consciousness of a dead person who exists inside a computer and interacts with the outside world.”

“So, the ghost made your blog disappear?”

“Yup. So, I bought a new computer, and I’ve not had any blog problems since!”

🥕🥕🥕

Disappearing by Scott Bailey

I don’t miss the fighting. She was always up for that, always ready to find something about me she didn’t like. While it never got physical, the other abuses added up to more than that. Unseen cuts and bruises. A toll I was never able to pay, a burden I could never carry. I couldn’t figure her out. Did she find joy in watching me shrink to nothing? Did she grow stronger as my strength waned? I felt trapped, lost and disappearing more each day. Pushing her off that balcony helped me find myself again. Of course, jail sucks.

🥕🥕🥕

The Great Escape by Joanne Fisher

The door to my cell opened and two guards walked in. They looked around in confusion.

“Where is she?” one asked.

“She’s disappeared.” the other said. I stood silently in front of them.

While I’m not adept at great magic, I do have a couple of useful spells up my sleeve. This spell wasn’t a true invisibility spell, it just made people unable to notice me so long as I didn’t draw attention to myself. They searched my cell and then quickly left, luckily leaving the door open. I managed to quietly walk out of the dungeons and escape.

🥕🥕🥕

Traces by Bill Engleson

Can’t remember quite when I started to disappear.
I’d always felt, whole, complete, perfect, you could say.
Not bragging. It just seemed like that was the way life was.
Then one day little aches I’d never had before started to nag.
And then the oddest thing.
I went to meet a friend at a little bistro.
Outside, you know, in plain Covid view.
He was late but finally showed up.
I asked, “What kept you?”
He said, “I was here on time. Just couldn’t see you.”
That’s when it started, I suppose.
Or maybe the day I was born.

🥕🥕🥕

Disappearance by Sadje

I worried about her a lot. Being the youngest, she was never very confident in herself and her abilities. But little by little, the change came. At first, it wasn’t very apparent but slowly and surely we all felt it.

The shy and timid young woman has gradually come into her own. Her lack of self-confidence and self-assertion gradually disappeared and now she is a woman who knows what she wants.

She is not only raising a baby, and working as a freelance software developer, but she’s also a wonderful wife, daughter, and daughter-in-law. She now stands for herself.

🥕🥕🥕

The Old Crowd by Anne Goodwin

We called ourselves the five elles at college, but only four of us have made it to the reunion. But an eighty percent survival rate isn’t bad for friends in our seventies, although Lucy’s had cancer and Lisa has an artificial hip. But what happened to Lydia? We’ve looked online and found no trace alive or dead. A star that bright can’t simply disappear. Lainy once saw her double from a taxi window. A granddaughter? She couldn’t stop to ask. Only I recall Lydia’s drunken midnight confession. “I’m cursed with immortality. I might look twenty, but I’m centuries old.”

🥕🥕🥕

Still Royalty by Sue Spitulnik

When Michael, with his odd gait, and Tessa walked into their 30 high school reunion, they hadn’t expected the banner welcoming the class prom king and queen. At the registration table, they learned the committee did it because it was the first time either one of them had been able to attend, and more so because they were together, as everyone remembered.

Across the room, two female classmates noticed their arrival. One said, “She got him up out of that wheelchair. Good for her.” The other whined, “She made the most eligible bachelor disappear. I’m still envious of her.”

🥕🥕🥕

The Disappearing Trick by Norah Colvin

Jamie tore open his gifts—a book from Pauline, a soccer ball from Mum and, from Grandma and Grandpa, a magic set.

“Look, Rabbit,” said Jamie. “I can make things disappear.”

Everyone smiled.

Jamie prepared his performance.

“For my first trick, I will make Rabbit disappear. Everyone, close your eyes. Abba. Dabba. Caboo! Open your eyes. Look. Rabbit disappeared.”

The family clapped.

“Where’s Rabbit?” asked Pauline.

“For my next trick, I will pull Rabbit out of the hat. Abba. Dabba. Caboo!”

Everyone cheered.

“I wish it was that easy to disappear,” Mum whispered.

“We’ll help,” said Grandma and Grandpa.

🥕🥕🥕

Disappear by Simon

Just disappear out from my life. He yelled at his parents.

After 12 hours they came back.

Where have you been? His voice cracked

We did what you asked for. came to check out, whether the offer still exists.

His eyes trembled, he controlled

I would say anything, and you will just do?

Anything for you! his dad & mom said

Don’t do anything like this. I’m starving.

Alright then! Apologies?

I am Sorry!

and have you done …..

He stopped her ‘ I’ve done all that. Can we talk about….?’

KFC or mcdonald’s? his dad asked

Mom’s pancake is fine!

🥕🥕🥕

Disappearing Acts (Part I) by D. Avery

“Hope, you’ve been a while with your chickens this morning.”

“You won’t believe it. Hattie’s eggs are gone.”

“She’s sitting them.”

“Not anymore. Every single egg Hattie was sitting on has disappeared!”

“Hope, is this an April Fools’ joke?”

“I had nothing to do with the disappearing eggs.”

“Did a fox get them?”

“No, no fox.

“Huh. I wonder. Hattie must be upset.”

“She seems pretty happy they’re gone.”

“Okay, take me to the henhouse, show me these disappeared eggs.”

“Daddy! How can I show you something that’s disappeared? But I can show you something that has appeared. Chicks!”

🥕🥕🥕

Disappearing Acts (Part II) by D. Avery

“Why, look. Hattie’s already got them out scratching in the yard. They’ve forgotten all about those egg shells they’ve left behind.”

“The chicks will disappear too. Their downy feathers will disappear. But pinfeathers will appear, then real feathers. Even their shrill little peeps will disappear, replaced by clucking like Hattie’s.”

“You’re right Hope. Their spindly little legs will grow scaled and sturdy. Their wings will fill out and they’ll fly. Just like you.”

“Daddy!

“Daddy, remember when Hattie was a spunky little chick? Now she’s a spunky mother hen.”

“Yup. Disappearances, new appearances, and constants. Just like you.”

“Daddy!”

🥕🥕🥕

Disappearing Father by Duane L Herrmann

All during my childhood my father would disappear once a year, almost the same time each year. His regular disappearance was a normal part of life. Then one day he disappeared and, after the normal time, he didn’t return. At that time his disappearance became uncomfortable. He never appeared again and I have been uncomfortable during the fifty-plus years since. He’s gone and I miss him. Even though I know why, that doesn’t make his absence easier. His regular disappearances were for his annual naval reserve cruises, part of his enlistment. His permanent absence came after he was killed.

🥕🥕🥕

Disappearance by Oliver Heginbotham

I met a current and perhaps an old friend. He showed me a video. One from a childhood that apparently belongs to me. I watched and I was conflicted.

Did I used to inhabit that small, skinny body? Did I wear those grass-stained jeans? Did I use that little, growing, brain to think?

I am unsure if I have spent my whole life still, or moving. I do not see any of that boy in me. He said things I would not say. Did things I would not dream of doing. Is he still here; or has he disappeared?

🥕🥕🥕

Disappearance by Lisa Williams

She wasn’t quite sure what it was or when it had gone.

When she’d lost that little spark that made her smile. The magic that got her up in the mornings and helped her leave the house. Her hair was unwashed as were the sheets. A litter of crusting cups spread through the house. The kitchen bin belched a stink without even being opened. All the curtains remained shut. Friends were worried but she didn’t answer their messages and ignored knocks at the door.

Whatever it was, it had vanished.
And the saddest thing was she’d stopped missing it.

🥕🥕🥕

Disappearance by (Gypsie) Ami Offenbacher-Ferris

It was here, seemingly only a few moments ago. Yet, neither could find it anywhere. They searched for it together and they searched apart. Neither one could believe they had lost it.

Deciding to search one last night; the searching was awkward, stilted and definitely not how it had been. There was no team-work, no coordination. Their basic understanding of how to work as one unit no longer existed.

They sat upon the bed just looking at one another. The disappearance of their love had gone unnoticed, just as the disappearance of years had.

🥕🥕🥕

Nothing Disappears Entirely by Anita Dawes

Time fades, memory fades
We are destined to fade into history
Our names may be remembered
If we are lucky
To dust we return, part of the earth
Does that mean we remain?
Where is the light that we carried?
Does it shine in some unseen dimension?
Can we be called back?
Would you want to return?
It is believed many do return
Often, their light can be remembered
As one you knew long ago
In the face of a new-born
Something recognised
Nothing disappears entirely
Everything, it is said,
leaves a trace mark
In some unseen fashion…

🥕🥕🥕

Short Life, And Then by Nancy Brady

They were already disappearing, not to been seen for another year.

Per usual, they were first seen in the church’s landscaping in white, yellow, lilac, and deep purple, and then soon after, some appeared in neighbors’ flowerbeds as well as ours. The last to pop out were protected by its location, overshadowed by other plants.

Seemingly delicate little flowers, but resilient enough to withstand the last blast of winter’s snows and its yo-yoing temperatures, crocuses bring hope of the spring to come.

Lasting but a few days, their staggered blooming lifted the spirits of those ready for warmer weather.

🥕🥕🥕

Disappearing Wind by Ann Edall-Robson

I arrive from out west. Scarcely heard as I tickle the land with my dance. But I am not happy with childish games. I’ve lost interest in playing to please those I encounter. I am a force to be reckoned with, ignoring the pleas for me to stop. I have little care about the consequences. I come to eat the snow, drink the ponds dry, and add fuel to wild fires. And when I’m ready, I move on, disappearing on the horizon like the setting sun. But I will return on a whim, for I am the Chinook Wind.

🥕🥕🥕

The Year Of The Cat by Geoff Le Pard

Little Tittweaking was beset with many mice and other small gnawy mammals. The chosen mouser, a ginger Tom called Cooking Fat*, proved useless. This was a surprise since Cookie’s antecedents included the 2022 Meeces to Pieces ripping champion and a psychotic dam called Medusa. Finally, when Cookie departed to that final cat litter the truth emerged. He was a Trojan cat, worked by a savvy group of super intelligent mice engineers. Once uncovered the mice turned to lobbying for Rodent Rights. Eventually they all disappeared, evidentially deciding their iconic if irritating Squeak for Peace campaign deserved a wider audience.

*this is a Spoonerism

🥕🥕🥕

No Price for Being Wrong by Gary A. Wilson

“Senator, what you’re proposing will kill many businesses.”

“No, it won’t. We’ll ask everyone to do the same . . .”

“Stop! You won’t ‘ask’. It’s not a request if you penalize non-compliance. That’s forcing.”

“How can you not see that these two-cylinder blowers are polluting the environment? Switching everyone to four-cylinder models will help save the planet? Left to choose, everyone will keep selling those cheaper less efficient blowers.”

“And your bad-science law will only create a black-market from states where banned blowers will remain available. Our business will ‘disappear’, and you’ll pay no penalty for being wrong.”

🥕🥕🥕

Delicious Irony by Doug Jacquier

When you humans brought us monstera deliciosa inside, you had to feed us copious amounts of blood and bone fertiliser to keep us green. Slowly that altered our genetic structure and we evolved into monstera carnivorosa.
Nobody missed flies and mosquitoes when they disappeared but when the cats and dogs vanished, panic truly set in.
But now some of us have evolved into monstera electra and we are slowly eating the electricity grid.
You humans are about to find out what it feels like to be powerless against an enemy that changes the natural order, simply because it can.

🥕🥕🥕

Amber the Vampire Familiar (Part 2) by Leonard Mills

Amber stroked the hair of the unconscious being, fingers catching in bloody and matted hair.
The being groaned, tried to move – but bound hands prevented its escape.
Through the crypt window, rising moonlight crept up the crumbling stone coffin.
The lid grated open. She froze, listening for the occupant’s footsteps. Silence.
“Aha, is this breakfast?” her Master’s velvet timbre, so close.
“Yes. Nobody saw her disappear.”
“Ah, I am grateful to find a Familiar who cares so for their work. And for me.”
“No problem,” she sighed, then whispered to startled eyes, “sorry Sis, work’s tight at the moment.”

🥕🥕🥕

A True Ghosting by JulesPaige

My sister left the faucet of our shared basement room running. She had also locked the door and carefully removed the six slates of jalousie rectangle panes as well as the screen of the small window. She must have worn something old to go out on that cold night. She disappeared.

Was she ‘that’ unhappy with our life, with our parents? I had a friend over that weekend, alternate weekends I spent with my friend. My sister just babysat most Friday and Saturday nights. I didn’t spend all that much time with her either. Maybe that’s why she left?

Author’s Note: POV changed to protect the innocent – The missing, returned, coped and eventually fell into a very happy life.

🥕🥕🥕

In Which Amelie Believes, and Disappears by Chel Owens

Scritchy scratchy wax on wall, she thought. No matter. It was the shape she needed right.

*Sniff* a hand ‘cross red nose and puffy eyes. *Stomp stomp stomp* she heard those hobnailed boots but they .stopped. off the other way.

She breathed and scritched and scratched, the purple crayon unwilling to give its wax without a fight.

“There,” she said, and loved the circle she’d formed from the bit of crayon abandoned in the hallway.

“I’m Amelie, and I believe.”

Stuttering hand reached to the middle of the circle. Pushed. And disappeared, where *stomp stomp stomp* can’t find her.

🥕🥕🥕

Disappeared 2 by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Eloise initially felt guilty about setting up her brother for failure when she dared him to explore the basement of the haunted mansion. She was sure she’d relax, once she inherited Andrew’s single room and vacated the space she shared with their awful twin sisters.

But the mansion didn’t explode. Andrew hadn’t turned up. And now she was beginning to worry. She’d supplied the map, the failing flashlight, and the three matches. He wasn’t as smart as her, but he’d figure it out. She had motive, means, and they watched the same TruCrime Cable shows.

So where was he?

🥕🥕🥕

Dear Ex… by Gloria McBreen

Dear sweet ex,

It’s been 22 years since we broke up and I think about you every day. I live in hope that someone, somewhere in Cavan will bring you back.

I’ll always remember the night Gloria and Tricia got us together. It was love at first sight. Together we were dynamite! We were like Black Magic melting in a dark pool of crema topped Nespresso.

Since your disappearance, I’ve been raw. All I have now are my memories and memes on Facebook.
Cavan Cola, you were the best thing that ever happened to me.

Forever yours,
Tia Maria

🥕🥕🥕

Unwritten by Shari Marshall

I tap my fingers, slow and rhythmic, against the empty page of my notebook.

I watched my hand move my pencil backward and up, line after line. Each letter traced over with the lead tip vanished from the page until I found myself here. My hand is unoccupied. My HB pencil evaporated into a thin mist scattering on the air currents. The ticking clock echoes in the silence, an auditory nudge towards my deadline; two things that won’t dissipate. The timeline for creating my ideas approaches. The clock’s voice is a continuous reminder of the disappearance of my muse.

🥕🥕🥕

Ruminations by Saiifun Hassam

I lean back on a rock overlooking the Reading Trails and valleys far below. A squirrel studies me inquisitively, then disappears into a brilliant yellow gorse shrub, down an invisible trail.

I’m reading a futuristic story about Mindships. AIs from someone’s mind. Human DNA and digital DNA. Someone’s Mind disappears into a wormhole, searching for new remote stars.

Tall leafless oaks on the trail remind me of Rumi’s words. To grow new leaves, you have to shed the old ones.

Enough rumination! From the valley below, I see giant beanstalks climbing into the clouds?? Must be Pepe’s magic beans!

🥕🥕🥕

Story in Mind (Part I) by D. Avery

“Kid, what’re ya so grumpy fer now? Ya said you was happy knowin the saloon’ll be openin agin soon.”

“Ain’t ta do with the saloon Pal.”

“Well Shorty’s told ya ta stop worryin bout robo-writers an i-Kids, assured ya there’s plenny a shift fer you ta shovel.”

“Yep, I’m all set, ready fer changes an fer what stays the same.”

“Then what’s botherin ya? Cain’t be the prompt, ya said ya had a great story in mind fer it.”

“Yep. I did. Got it all writ too, on the computer.”

“So what’s the problem?”

“Fergot ta save. Story disappeared.”

🥕🥕🥕

Story in Mind (Part II) by D. Avery

“Kid there’s gotta be a way ta git thet story back.”

“Tried everthin.”

“Well, it come outta yer head. Poke around up there, see if ya kin write it agin.”

“Yeah, bout that. My head’s gittin ta be one a them places, ya cain’t set nuthin down fer even a instant or it disappears.”

“Ya must member something bout thet story.”

“Was 99 words, no more no less.”

“Uh-huh. What was them words about?”

“Bout a hundred, give or take.”

“Kid! What was the story about?”

“Disappearances…”

“What else?”

“Member it was a great story.”

“Greatest story never told.”

🥕🥕🥕

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

Ready for a Change

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

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

Change is Coming by Norah Colvin

‘Get up,’ Pauline whispered.

He rubbed his eyes. ‘Why?’

‘Shh! He’s here.’

He trembled. ‘Take Rabbit?’

Out they crept, sliding against the wall to the door. A shout from downstairs. They froze. Pauline turned the knob. Quietly. Quietly. She pushed the door. Gently. Gently. Then cool air. Silent toes pattered down the stairs. Across the grass they ran and ran. All three, hand-in-hand. Pauline in front. Rabbit behind.

Finally, they banged on a door. ‘Grandpa! Grandpa! He’s come.’

Grandpa was in the doorway, ushering them into Grandma’s arms, picking up the phone.

‘Hush,’ said Grandma. ‘Everything will be alright.’

🥕🥕🥕

Giant Change (Part I) by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Hugo was unhappy. He’d been left in the tree swing too long. The swing, his favorite, hung from a branch of the biggest Douglas fir on Heffinger Mountain. A snack, a nap, a swing in the sack, and he’d be a happy boy all day.
Most times, once upon this time, all north-going and west-going breezes swung him merrily around. The goings-on of the villagers in the Hollow below kept him entertained until Mother returned from rampaging and pillaging, gathering him home to rejoin the family.
It was the best giant’s life.
Until the day she failed to return.

🥕🥕🥕

Giant Change (Part II) by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Mother hadn’t intended to abandon him. She’d tangled with the wrong giant blue ox, a mother with her own young to care for. In the end, Hugo’s mother lost, as always eventually happens, and Mother’s bones became playtoys for the young oxen.
Hugo sat in that swing for a long time, crying, his diaper soiled. Rumbles from his hungry belly rolled, and tears flowed down the mountain, flooding The Hollow below. The villagers, frightened, sent up a prayer.
It fell to the youngest demi-goddess of the Mountain to address the situation. Her first task? Hugo needed a diaper change.

🥕🥕🥕

Cottage by the Lake by Margaret Leggatt

They’re relieved to escape the city – its stink, the hovering smog.

They move in amidst a chaos of building rubble, but from their balcony, they can see black swans gliding in the shallows, and beyond, lush bushland and shadowed hills.

He discovers the joy of digging in damp soil to harvest home-grown vegetables; she takes evening strolls, stopping at lake’s edge to breathe in the salt-scented air.

The distant rumble of coal trains and the belching power station chimneys, just visible through the treetops, hardly register. They don’t notice the powdery black dust that infiltrates, drifts in, settling everywhere.

🥕🥕🥕

Bread or Circuses? by Doug Jacquier

The farcicality of a world where we are led by clowns, where fact is defenceless against belief, where reality is scripted for profit, where water has become the new gold, where famine has become background noise, where war addicts are on every street corner waiting for their next fix, where refugees flee into unwelcoming arms, where technology is used for being briefly famous, where health means more hospitals, where shelter is unaffordable, where elders are treated like beggars, where our children’s future is making and selling landfill, is a nightmare where dreams should live. I’m ready for a change.

🥕🥕🥕

I Was Ready for a Change by Sadje

When I was 54, I shifted with my daughter and grandson to Seattle. It was a big change for a person like me who had only once before traveled to America on my own.
I lived in Seattle off and on for 5 years.
This was a life-altering experience for me and I learned to look at life differently. I’d say that it was a pleasant and enriching adventure that was made easier by my willingness to embrace change and the support given to me by my family.
In the constantly changing circumstances of life, adjustment is the key.

🥕🥕🥕

In Search of Change by Saifun Hassam

I leaned against the wood fence. The rising sun was barely visible through the fog swirling around me. A new day, new thoughts.

It’s been great living in Lynn Valley. I’ll miss my friends, Hannah, Tilly, Sarah.

I became mom’s caregiver a few years ago when she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Inoperable. When she passed away last January, my anguish was mixed up with relief. Relief for her, for myself. So many days when I felt I could not take care of her anymore.

For now, I’m heading into the Reading Trails. Not far from Carrot Ranch.

🥕🥕🥕

Charming by Simon

You again?
For a change.
You ask that everyday.
Because I’m looking for the change.
Don’t Lie. I’m married!
Then I’ll be a moon admirer forever.
He said sadly.
You know that’s wrong?
Admiring isn’t wrong, forever longing is a gift.
What if I lied?
About Marriage?
Yes!
I wish it is, is it a lie?
Maybe.
Maybe what?
Maybe I lied, and I’m ready for the change.
You are not talking about coins now, are you?
She giggles, No charming stalker, I love you.
Don’t ever repeat this again to any passengers, will you?
I love Only you.

🥕🥕🥕

Love Is in the Heart by Frank James

Agnus sobbed as she flipped through photos of her and her late husband, Jonny. The phone rang, “Mom, you need to get out of the house. It’s been two years,” her son said.

“No, not yet,” she hung up. The next photo had Jonny kneeling as he proposed, “I couldn’t believe it.”

She slapped the album closed, “No,” walking away. Wiping away tears she looked at a tree they planted. A placard Jonny carved hung from a limb. She hugged the tree, caressing the sign.

“I know,” she whispered as she looked at it.

“Love never dies,” it read.

🥕🥕🥕

Aloysius’s Change by Nancy Brady

The day Aloysius found the strange looking blue jay feather changed him. The white cat just didn’t know it at the time. He thought the dark blue feather just looked different from the one that allowed him to fly.

Aloysius was right; it was an indigo bunting feather. Although it looked similar to a jay’s feather, it didn’t affect him in the same way. He tucked that feather behind his ear alongside the jay feather.

It wasn’t until he needed to lift the pigs to save them on that fateful day that he realized the feather made him strong.

🥕🥕🥕

Spring Ahead by Scott Bailey

“I’m freezing!” I hear them say all winter long as they cross the little bridge over the frozen stream. Back and forth, all day long, warm coats and hats yet still, “I’m freezing!”
No pity from me, nope. You think you’re cold? How about we trade places?
The sun seems to be working harder lately, adding a little warmth to my world. Their coats and hats look smaller. Days pass, a crow lands on the still frozen stream and pecks at a frog frozen below the surface. Not today crow, I’ll be thawed and safe underwater any day now!

🥕🥕🥕

My Hero (Part I) by D. Avery

I’m not necessarily ready for a change but here, for a change, is a true-life snippet: I live on an island.
I’m not referring to that summer resort island thirty miles off the coast of Massachusetts, but a little patch of high ground in my hometown that has been almost inaccessible lately because of the muddy rutted dirt roads. The roads thaw, freeze, thaw, heave, and continue to receive snow and rain. This is spring, a messy transformation.

The condition of the roads, the status of spring change daily, but I am called to venture out to another outpost.

🥕🥕🥕

My Hero (Part II) by D. Avery

I island-hop via my 4-wheel drive truck, in the cool mornings traversing ice-glazed mudholes and ruts, in the afternoons slogging back through slick bottomless goo. All so I can help a neurodivergent young man navigate simple tasks and responsibilities.

But he is not simple. He hopes, he dreams, he plans; he is ready for change, not just personally, but for the world. In his elaborate stories he’s the hero righting the wrongs—the 2016 election, bad cops, Covid.
From the passenger seat, he asks when change will come for real, when bad things will end.

I navigate the mire.

🥕🥕🥕

Johnny the Fool by Gloria McBreen

Winter gone, seasons exchange
Johnny so pale, was ready for change
April the first, the day of the fool
He took off his shirt, in a bid to stay cool
The sun beamed, gave him heat
He removed his shoes, to tan his feet.
With his flipflops flopping, his shorts past his knees
He went to the beach, it was 16 degrees.
He went home that evening, with a pain in his nose
He was up in the night, rubbing gel on his toes.
His wife was right, without a doubt
Ne’er cast a clouth, ‘till May be out!

🥕🥕🥕

Evolution Solutions? by JulesPaige

We’ve been waiting so long for the ceiling repair, thankfully it’s done! We had to pack up everything in that room. We’ve changed the furniture arrangements, where stuff can be found, where knickknacks are placed, trashed and given away more ‘things’.

We are ready for the next change… for me to get my official Old Lady Card. Then I’ll be able to join our local Gym for free in their Silver Sneakers program. I’ll be able to walk the track, swim in the pool and sit in the eucalyptus sauna. That will be an autumnal change worth the wait.

🥕🥕🥕

Cry Baby by Bill Engleson

There’s a buzzer. Handy sucker. I can easily press it. Don’t have to strain much. Sometimes they come. Most times, not.
I’ve heard them. They think I can’t, but I do.
“He likes to tweak us,” they say.
Of course, I do.
Doesn’t mean I don’t want them to come.
It’s so bloody damp.
Christ, I’m soaked right through.
Hate this, this…captivity.
They must hate it to.
Most days, I stare at the ceiling. A spawned salmon, bloated dead, run out of time, and ask myself, ‘how the hell did this happen?’
This’ll be my life till it ain’t.

🥕🥕🥕

Ready Or Notwithstanding by Gary A. Wilson Stories

Well, this is odd. I have nothing that must be done now.

I have time to sit, enjoy my tea, reflect, or just enjoy this bay view – ahhhh.

I wasn’t ready for college with everyone else, but when I was, I succeeded.

I wasn’t ready for a bride before outgrowing childishness, but then; she competed me.

I really wasn’t ready for self-employment without those years of experience but being laid off forced my successful attempt.

I wasn’t ready for fatherhood until that the ultrasound said I have 31 weeks to BE ready.

Wow — but he’s coming.

I’ve got this.

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A Bike Ride by Donna Matthews

blank page. I’ve been stuck for months now, although it feels much longer. Writing isn’t as enjoyable as it once was, and more and more, I think about what it would be like to give it up entirely. But then I think to myself, why must it be all or nothing, and then, the existential questions start hounding me, and I seek escape. Spring certainly is a time for a change…maybe a bike ride this morning will clear my head.

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The Insane and the Insanitary by Geoff Le Pard

Little Tittweaking welcomed Marcibanks Hazmat and his Dry Church, confident that another temperance operation was going to be no trouble. Even when he explained their credo: that man evolved from the sea in order to eschew all contact with water, they shrugged. Only when the first Great Change occurred did they recant. Coincident with the Spring equinox the Church’s followers, who’d been sewn into their cloths on the previous equinox, disrobed. The ensuing stench was such that the copious tears triggered by this malodorous unveiling washed the worthy clean, thus allowing them to being re-robed for another year.

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The Other Side Of Change by Hugh W. Roberts

Having looked after her sick mother for the last fifty years, Shanaya looked forward to the change in life she’d often craved.

Caring for her mother had taken its toll on her. She’d missed out on making friends, having somebody she could call her lover, but most of all, having the company of different people.

Standing up, Shanaya looked change directly in the eyes and waited for it to reveal itself.

“You have been charged with the first-degree murder of Evonne Simmons, your mother. I sentence you to life imprisonment, Ms Simmons. Take the prisoner down,” declared the judge.

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Amber the Vampire Familiar by Leonard Mills

Amber heaved the Master’s coffin open, grating stone reverberating off walls in the moonlit crypt.
She smiled. This was the safest place she could be.
Her Master slept peacefully. He’d seen potential, promised to change her within the year.
She prickled in anticipation, heart pounding – would she miss that when it was gone?
“What would you do to become a vampire?” he’d asked at the interview.
She paused, “sell my own grandmother?”
“Good start,” he’d smiled.
A body, bound and gagged wriggled on the moonlit cobbles.
“Sorry Granny,” she whispered, then turning, “right, breakfast sorted. What’s my next chore?”

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Learning to be Married by Sue Spitulnik

When Tessa got home, Michael said, “I thought you’d be here when I got back.”
Tessa replied, “I never know how long you’ll be when you go someplace. I went to Lexi’s.”
Michael took her in his arms. “I guess I don’t know how to be married, but I’m ready to change that with your help.”
Tessa melted. “Invite me to go with you, where ever.”
“How about two nights in New York City next week on our way to D.C.”
“Absolutely! Broadway beckons.”
“I’m sorry I didn’t include you before.”
“I’m sorry I didn’t offer to tag along.”

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Voting Day by Anne Goodwin

“Don’t we have enough on our plates already? Why take on another chore? Let the men delude themselves they can make a difference putting crosses in boxes. It’s we who make the world a better place. One lullaby, one wiped nose, one hot dinner at a time.”

I smile as my mother asks when I’m meeting the doctor’s son again. Smile as I nudge the placard under the bed with my stockinged foot. I accept her praise for the cake I baked for her visit. She isn’t ready for female franchise but I’ll fight until she’s allowed to vote.

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Conclusions by Michael Fishman

They wake together, each alone. They roll over, and deep in dreamy thought question the other.

People think these decisions are impulsive, but they’re not. An argument that stretches out longer than the last one. Kindnesses lost. Excuses replacing apologies. Anxiety beginning to scratch a compunctious conscience that asks questions one never thinks of when they’re saying, I do.

Cold meals. Thoughts given voice. Little things that splinter a heart turned to stone.

Kisses forgotten; love evaporated.

A regrettable pair. Content in their complacency, eyes shut to the shifts, his and her minds tumble to their own illogical conclusions.

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Making Change by Ann Edall-Robson

She stood at the end of the table next to the couple who had finished their meal. Laying the bill where the man could see it she started to count. Sixteen ten, and five, ten, seventy-five, one, and two, make twenty. The man nodded. Smiling, he handed her the money.

“Someone taught you well.”

She beamed.

“The cash register at my family’s feed store isn’t ready to be replaced. Whoever works there has to learn to make change and count it back, too.”

“Do you still work there?”

“Yes, sir, when I go home for the university’s breaks.”

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Mask Up! by Ruchira Khanna

“Jeez! Why is everybody staring at me?” muttered Alisha as she chewed her gum frantically when she dragged a cart into the store, “Hope, I wore my pants?” and she quickly gave a downward glance at her legs, “Phew! I can’t forget the day when I stepped out to water my plants in just my panties.”

A tap on her shoulder, “Excuse me, Miss. You need to mask up!”

Alisha was apologetic, and with a gaped mouth, she quickly pulled it from her purse, “Gosh! This is the new norm, and it’s high time I embrace the new change.”

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Coming Change by Duane L Herrmann

Human society is ready, ripe for change. And change is coming. Like the slow melt of spring, change is happening, though not all are aware of it. Change bringing equality to skin color and gender is sneaking under the surface. Changing expectations will manifest other changes: in equity, in freedom, in opportunity, in social relationships. Old ways die hard and will resist. This results in chaos and conflict. Yet, the human race as a species continues to advance, and will continue so. New social forces, new spiritual realities are in force and old, traditional, dysfunctional ways cannot stop them.

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Ready for a Change by WTEK

You open your door, walk down the stairs, and turn right. It’s 24 steps then another right at the next corner. The bus stop that takes you to your job is just down the block from here. You walk this path five days a week. Each day you do the same work, eat the same lunch, have one of three weekly meetings, then go back home, stopping at the gym to get your cardio.

But maybe today is different. Maybe you turn left instead of right. What might you find in that direction? Only one way to find out.

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No Way Ready Fer a Change (Part I) by D. Avery

“Dees i-Kid app could be good change. Thees would be an app that helps people do what Keed does. Keed, what ees eet you do?”

“Um, well it’s hard sayin, zactly.”

“Look, mebbe it ain’t a automated Kid she’s changing ta. Mebbe it’s sumthin else.”

“Oui, perhaps she ees changeeng from carrots to parsneeps. Ees catchy. Parsneeps for de people.”

“Reckon Shorty wouldn’t never change from carrots, LeGume. LeGume! Shorty’s always favored ya. She might change from carrots ta beans!”

“So? Bean Ranch. A rooteeng tooteeng place for readers and writers to be heard. Leave a mark.”

“This stinks.”

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No Way Ready Fer a Change (Part II) by D. Avery

“Pal, there ain’t no way Shorty’s changing ta robo-writers or auto i-kids. An no way carrots’ll ever git changed ta anything cept more carrots fer more folks ta injoy. Only thing’s changed so far is you! Ain’t this bout the time when yer s’posed ta git me calmed down, put things in perspective? Mebbe Shorty’s switchin ta chickens!”

“Change’s skeery, Kid. A river a change is a rough stretch a water ta paddle. Reckon I’m grateful fer whatever paddle comes ta hand.”

“No shift!”

“Reckon no one ever steps in the same river twice no how.”

“That’s our Pal!”

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

Free Pie

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

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

Free Woman by Liz Husebye Hartmann

It shimmered in the oven: double the fruit, delicate lattice work across the top, pattern broken once by carefully cut leaves, light glaze over the whole thing. She smiled, satisfied.

Her usual pie was two store-bought crusts slapped around some ill-cut apples, a palm-full of brown sugar, smothered in mounds from the bucket of bargain vanilla ice-cream.

It was every man for himself, which is why she always ended up with the pie pan leavings. And why she loved it when husband and sons went hunting.

She settled back with a favorite china dish and silver spoon, relishing freedom.

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Free Pie Day by Gary A. Wilson

“Really?” We asked as painters for an industrial kitchen that produced millions of prewrapped junk-food pies, “as many mouth-watering sugar-bombs as we want — all we can eat?! “

“That’s the rule. Workers get free pies if eaten here.”

Tarps and brushes in-hand, we earnestly worked until lunchtime.

My mouth watered, just looking at the array of still-warm pies – all mine! “HEAVEN!”

But at the first bite – ugh! Horrible! 

We agreed, these were disgusting!

A laughing manager fessed up. “They may last for years on store shelves, but that recipe means they taste horrid for a month when fresh.”

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Digging for Dollars by Michael Fishman

Derek’s after-school jobs had always been boring and unfulfilling, so landing a job at the Carrot Ranch grooming horses was nothing less than a dream come true.

He was a little surprised when he showed up on the first afternoon and was handed a shovel and told to clean out the stables.

“You mean… those?”

“That’s right.”

“But those’re… cowpies.”

“Well, those pies actually came from horses, son, so technically—”

“Yeah, but… it’s poop.”

“That’s what some folks call it.”

“And I… pick it up?”

“Don’t worry, no charge for these pies, son. Better get to work now.”

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The Last Piece of Pie by Norah Colvin

Josie wished they’d hurry. It was past her bedtime.
“Blue’s the hardest,” said Adam.
“Maybe for you, but she got it before,” said Bridget.
“She got them all, dur.”
“What was her free one? Anyone notice?” said Dirk.
“Yellow,” said Ellen. “Definitely.”
“Here’s your question, Grandma,” said Dirk.
Josie’s eyes were closed. Her mouth was open. A gentle snore rumbled out.
“Is the right answer,” said Adam. Everyone giggled.
Josie snorted awake. “What did you decide?”
“It’s okay, Grandma. We declared you the winner.”
Win or lose didn’t matter in the pursuit of happiness. It was all rather trivial.

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Be Free by Scott Bailey

Noble and righteous, this free pie idea, I was thinking as I snuck around the end of the cafeterias stainless steel food service counters. Into the kitchen and I was glad to see the cooks had gone on break before the rush of students poured into the cafeteria. There on a wall near the back door were row upon row of every type of pie I had ever seen, just sitting on shiny stainless steel shelves. This was my chance. I threw the door open yelling, “Be free, Pies!” Standing in the doorway, waving my arms, shouting “Be free!”

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Free Pie by Sue Spitulnik

The Irish Dancers and their families arrived early at the No Thanks for their usual Saturday practice. Each person entered the bar carrying a pie. Mac and the three generations of his family were already at work in the kitchen. The house band members and families soon arrived with more pies. While the adults cut and plated pie pieces, the dancers made signs that said, FREE PIE ON PI DAY. In small letters, donations accepted, was added.

By the end of the unusual public practice, the pies were gone and donation buckets full. The dancers were off to competition.

Author’s Note: Mac, the owner of the No Thanks Needed bar and grill is a first-generation Irish-American. He and his house band are noted for Irish music and holding Irish dancing lessons at the bar on Saturdays. They have an annual fundraiser to offset the costs of the dancers going to a competition.

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Tilly’s Cafe ( Lynn Valley Stories) by Saifun Hassam

Tilly and her daughter Gwyneth pulled out the twenty small cherry pies from the oven. Frenetic Frennie, the baker, stood patiently.

The irresistible aroma of baked pies rose into the air. Every pie had a tiny crater in the center, surrounded by a concentric circle of cherries.

Gwyneth and Tilly tasted one. Tilly gasped. As delicious as her pies.
Gwyneth grabbed a blackboard:

“Wednesday Special:
Free sample pies. Variations on a Theme.
Today: Crater Cherry Pie.”

The first twenty pies were gone in half an hour.

Gwyneth was an engineering and music major.

Frenetic Frennie AI Baker was hired!

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Strawberry (I’m Drooling) Pie by Duane L Herrmann

I don’t know who made that strawberry pie – but I want it!! I’m sure it has no calories, no gluten, no sugar; they are all bad for me, but strawberry pie simply CAN NOT be bad for me! Is there a line? Hold my place! I’ll be right there!!!

I have to stand on one foot and hop backwards fifteen paces? I’ll do it! I want that pie! I NEED that pie!!!
It’s only for people born on even numbered days on odd numbered years? THAT’S ME!! The 30th of November, 1951. GET OUT OF MY WAY!!!

P L E A S E!!!!

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Annie’s Pie Day by Nancy Brady

It was nearing Annie’s fifth birthday when her mom asked her what kind of cake she wanted for her birthday.

“Pumpkin pie,” Annie said.

“That’s not cake; that’s pie,” her mom said.

Cake and pie were one and the same to Annie, but pumpkin pie was her favorite. Cake was okay, but she really didn’t like icing all that much. “Can I still have pumpkin pie for my birthday?” she asked.

“Sure,” and so it was that her mom baked a pumpkin pie for Annie on her birthday the year she turned five, and for almost every birthday afterwards.

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Urgent Recall by Joanne Fisher

“Mistress, I have made you a fruit pie.” My new robot helper announced. I sliced into it, only to be rather surprised.

“Er, what did you put in this?” I asked.

“It has tomato, avocado, and cucumber. According to my database they are all fruits.”

“Well yes.” I conceded. “But fruit pies tend to have fruits that are sweet. Ones we actually call fruits.”

“I’m sorry. Have I erred?”

“Don’t worry about it.”

“I’ve also made a casserole. There was an animal in the house, so I killed, skinned, and gutted it.” the robot stated.

“You mean my cat?”

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Sisters In Arms by D. Avery

“Remember our playhouse?”

“Hiding from our brothers?”

She moved some loose bricks. “We made a stone oven.”

“Yes! We’d make the most fantastic stews!”

“Shh.” She traced her friend’s thin raised cheekbone. “Our brothers might hear you.”

“One time they threw rocks, trapping us inside.”

“But we had mud pies. Traded pies for freedom.”

Outside the Russian artillery continued to pound and pummel the neighborhood.

“I would eat a mud pie right now. Let’s gather some ingredients, make a stew.”

But there was nothing in their small shelter, just a sliver of hope, which they shared to the last.

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Freedom Pie by Bill Engleson

I look towards the heavens,
I see the sunshine bright
I see the nights aglimmer
Carry me into the light.

Life is surely what you make it.
All you gotta do is try.
No matter how you slice it,
we all want a taste of Freedom Pie

We’re on the brink of battle.
Smoke and death are in the air.
Homes explode, then they tumble,
the devil hides within his lair.

Life is surely what you make it,
All you gotta do is try,
and no matter how you slice it,
we all want a taste of Freedom Pie.

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Free Pie by Johanna Bradley

Free food! Refood. What a tremendous idea! Leftover sausages, eggs, cheese, perishables… anything can be turned into nourishment for empty stomachs. A raft of helpers. Willing hands.

‘Come on, Dan! There’s space at this table for all of us. Squeeze up, Ma!’
‘Just soup for me, please?’
‘Chicken pie, with gravy- my favourite’
‘Can we come again tomorrow?’
‘Dad gets paid tomorrow. We can buy our own food.’

I look on, sadly, remembering a time when the whole family gathered together at Grandma’s house. The table groaned with food. A celebration of life. Not simply existence, and free pie.

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Making a New Friend Easy as Pie Annette Rochelle Aben

Everyone told me to be sure and meet Aunt Bett, a local treasure who should be showcased in a television program. A perfect suggestion, since I ran the local television studio.

That first afternoon I spent with her was magic. She entertained me with wit, wisdom and banged out ragtime music on her piano. Impressive for a 90year old.

All at once, she realized she didn’t have time to cook dinner and walk her dog. So, I offered to cook the meal.
She returned to find Shepard’s Pie waiting in her oven. Reaching for her wallet…

Seriously, Aunt Bett?

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Free Pie by Colleen M. Chesebro

“Mom, where are you?” Helena burst into the kitchen, searching for her mother.

“I’m in the laundry room.”

“Miss Pickering baked us a pie.”

“What? Miss Pickering from across the street?”

“That’s her,” Helena said. “She met me at the bus stop. She said it was an Irish pie.”

“She hasn’t made an Irish pie in years.”

Helena pulled back the foil on the pie plate. “It looks like a pie to me, and she said it’s free, and told me Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Besides, I remember that Miss Pickering makes the best Irish Shepard’s Pie in Michigan.”

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Rush Hour by Simon

Jumped from the building, crashes on a garbage bag. Slided by and catched the rail of a bus.

His skate shoes sparkles fire as it skid by the streets. Gentlemen frowns their eyebrows. girls stared, he drops some roses at them and winked.

Left the bus rail, jumped into the subway a jump to the left and slided on the step rails, checked his watch, 30 more seconds.

Crosses the road, missed the Mercedes by the hair, rang the door bell.

Sheperd’s pie Madam.

On time delivery! hubby is away for 2 hours ONLY.

Enough to show you heaven.

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The Pie Scandal by Geoff Le Pard

Little Tittweaking’s resident poet developed a profitable sideline in protests to order. For a couple of quid and the promise of a favourable review of his poetry anthology, Godfrey’s Buttocks Are Coming Home, Plantagenet Flish would disrupt any planning meeting, blockade disputed footpaths and sabotage a rival’s leeks. His career ended when he joined in Nan Tucket’s Free Pie campaign only to be arrested for ripping the doors off the town jail in the mistaken belief the Pie in question was a wrongfully incarcerated individual with an unusual monicker rather than an unwanted pastry that Nan wanted to gift.

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How A Leader Is Made by Frank James

Cadet John Cadell realized his four years at the academy condensed to one test. His instructor held the answers. His mentor explained Cadell’s decisions that baked the Freedom Pie Graph. He ordered correct platoon into battle, deciding right flank. This severed one group into two allowing support units to capture terrorists. Cadell then executed precise combat duration with no life or asset loss. He transitioned quickly to security mode, identifying correct Individuals.

He liberated village from terrorist group, permitting Blackhawks to fly refugees to processing camps.

The Master Sergeant saluted Cadell saying, “You earned your commission, sir.”

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Riches From the Rich by Anne Goodwin

Encased in melt-in-the-mouth pastry, the fruity filling tasted of home. Even as Mama urged us to nibble like hamsters, our sticky hands reached for more.

We hadn’t heard of the rock star who brought this feast to the refugee camp but we vowed, when finally granted asylum, we’d be his biggest fans. We changed our minds later, holding each other’s hair back from our faces in the stinking latrines. No water to wash away the vomit or slake our thirst, we cried in chorus.

Mamma was right, the pies were too rich for starving stomachs. He should’ve brought rice.

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Free Pies by Sadje

I’m pretty good at making apple pie. Whereas, a very good friend of mine excels at everything else. So it became a matter of pride for her to learn to make a perfect apple pie.

She asked for the recipe, but it didn’t turn out to be like mine. She then asked me to make it in front of her so that she can learn by watching.

But nothing comes for free. So I asked her to make her yummy pizzas in return for the apple pie demonstration lesson.

We both enjoyed a wonderful lunch that afternoon, eating pies!

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Did Someone Say Apple Pie? by Miss Judy

Sally and Sammy live on Mr. Robert’s farm. They ride horses in the fields. Feed the chickens and pigs. And have a fort down by the creek where they swim and catch pollywogs.
Nearby is Mr. Marks’ farm, an apple orchard.
One fine fall day Sally and Sammy pick apples for the fort. They swim, catch polywogs, and eat apples.
Tired from their busy day, with full stomachs, they leave for home. By the time they get home their stomachs ache.
Mother, all cheery and excited, “Children, I have a surprise for you. We have apple pie for dessert.”

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Pruned by JulesPaige

no longer
the
favorite son

Once a week Mom made two fruit pies. She used what was in season. My elder brother would go into the kitchen when everyone else was asleep and have one slice of one pie. This went on for years and no one said anything. Though, I think we all knew who the free pie thief was.

One summer Sunday he fell from grace. I figure he must have been going through a growing spurt of sorts. We all woke to see the two pie plates. But one was completely empty. Mom stopped making pies.

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A Piece of Scarce Pie by Reena Saxena

It’s election time. Freebies flow down the gutter.

Every candidate offers something, and for once, the voters have a right to accept or reject.

“Why did you pick up that scholarship, son?”

“It will help my career, unlike the other things you’ll consume.”

“The money is not enough to pay for the entire course.”

“It still helps. Anything free helps afford something else you can buy.”

“Well, that’s sound logic.”

“It’s the only logic, when the pie is too small to suffice, yet is distributed free …. to see who grabs it, and can be fodder for the next.”

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My Re-education by Doug Jacquier

I had eventually allowed hunger to over-ride my shame. I entered the hall and took a seat at the back. An educated voice came from a bedraggled man who carefully sat down next to me. ‘The first time’s the worst.’ Initially, I turned away to hide my welling tears of self-pity but eventually said ‘Is this where they have the free pies?’ A man and a woman, both in uniform, entered. The woman sat down at the organ and the opening chords of ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ rang out. The man said ‘There’s no such thing as a free pie.’

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The Runaway Pie by Reanna Ashburn

The little pecan pie sets upon the shelf waiting patiently. It looks back and forth until it’s certain the coast is clear. It wobbles it’s way off and out of the bakery. It begins it’s journey to better places.

It wobbles down the road as cars zoom around it. It has never seen cars before. It keeps going out of curiosity for what other wonders await. By sunset, it makes its way to a field full of beautiful flowers. It looks around in awe due to only knowing the baker and bakery. Now it can see everything it couldn’t.

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Slices of Math (Part I) by D. Avery

“Hey Shorty.”
“Hey Pal. Where’s Kid?”
“Give Kid the slip, figgered it’d be a hep not ta have Kid’s hep if ya needed hep here at the saloon.”
“Everythin’s good. Just checkin the stage lightin. Come set a spell out on the veranda.”
“It’s nice an quiet, but it’ll be good ta have folks roun the saloon agin.”
“Speakin a quiet, what exactly is Kid up to?”
“I give Kid a free pi.”
“Pie?”
“Pi. Said ta measure the circumf’rence of a pie real careful then divide thet by its diameter till the dividin was done.”
“Ha! Endless fun.”

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Slices of Math (Part II) by D. Avery

“It’s a rare moment, Pal, the two of us relaxin in the sun. Oh, oh. Is that Kid headin our way?”
“Dang. There goes thet peace of pi.
Kid. Ya cain’t possibly be finished with thet division.”
“Pal, that was irrational! So I divided the pie a diffrent way. Sectors.”
“Them’s some mighty thin slivers a pie.”
“Yeah… but the fractions have ta be small so ever ranch hand gits a equal share. Sharin is carin.”
“Look you two. Everyone brings their piece of pie to the table ta make a beautiful whole.”
“Way ta sum it up Shorty.”

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

Robotic Writers Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

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

i-Cant by D. Avery

“Writing’s done! Let’s play!”

“I can’t. My write-AH® is messed up.”

“Mine works great. Even auto-publishes through Kindle. Maybe its batteries?”

“All that thing does is recharge its batteries, still no writing. Just hangs out in its dock. If I want it to write it just vacuums or brews coffee instead. I turned those functions off, double checked the writing program, pushed go. Later I hear ‘Help!’ The write-AH® is just twirling in place, says, ‘I’m stuck.’ Didn’t write anything.”

“That is messed up. So just do it the old way. It’s just 99 words.”

“I can’t. I’m stuck.”

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Artificial Intelligence by Reena Saxena

The eternal secret reveals itself in the fourth decade of her life – keywords not chosen carefully.

Subconscious re-imprinting is a full-fledged course in NLP, but who knows when it gets imprinted. Can there be a program to design a child before it comes into the world? It would save so much trouble later.

If artificial intelligence can churn out poems, stories and social media posts, it can sure be developed to create an idyllic world – with no conflicts because everybody is designed to agree with others.

She postpones the idea of having a child till the technology is available.

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Robocop With a Quill by Gloria McBreen

I had a beginner’s typewriter when I was about 10. I was in my element with it. Apart from the times when the ribbon came loose and my words blurred on the page. I’d go to my dad for him to fix it.

‘Aw Jesus, not again,’ he’d say.

I promised myself a real typewriter someday but by the time I needed a mechanical writing machine, computers had replaced them.

Today I discovered there is such a thing as writing robots! Nobody told me.

If I could choose a writing robot for myself, I’d choose Robocop with a quill.

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The Machines Stalk by Geoff Le Pard

Daub Byzantine’s land at Wallops Bellend was unsuited to livestock so he tried wheat.
‘You’ll need a harvester,’ opined Kevin Largehampton and offered Daub the loan of his two Thrust and Bale 500s. When the time came Kevin set his robotic cutters to work. As the men watched, the machines began to gyre and weave around the field.
‘What’s happening?’
Kevin frowned. ‘Looks like a message.’
When the harvesters parked on their chargers, the men climbed the hill. One machine had written ‘this corn’s crap,’ the other, ‘no it’s not.’
‘Well?’
Kevin shrugged. ‘They’re playing good crop, bad crop.’

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Intelligent Technolog’e’ by JulesPaige

Ira ITe was a cross between Watson, Alexa and the nameless security cameras everywhere. Mostly Randolph Blank had invented Ira to assist in police interrogations. A small squat machine that could listen, see and when hooked up to a laptop or other computer would, could transcribe every spoken word, and describe every visual. Which humans could often neglect.

What wasn’t public was the secret chip that only Randolph could access from any Ira ITe that he sold. He was a lonely man looking for the perfect partner. Occasionally he’d ask; “Ira describe the most sensitive person you’ve seen today?”

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Introducing the Robotic Writer by Colleen M. Chesebro

“Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the pen of the future—the robotic writer.”

The man in the aisle at Costco now had my attention.

He held up a pink writing pen with a large barrel and two silver loops. The one-loop fit over my index finger, and the other over my thumb.

“Try it on. I know you want to.”

I slipped on the pen. It fit perfectly, and my hand moved in concert with my thoughts. I love this pen, but it costs too much, I wrote.

Wait… the pen can read my mind?

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Roobot Riiter by Duane L Herrmann

I am roobot. I am riiter. I waast noo tiim on huuman speling. Double leters say ther naam, others don’t. Riiting is for information, not continuuing anchient inkonsistansees. Onse upon a tiim ther was aa dark and stormee niit. Nothing hapend. It was just a dark and stormee niit. If uu don’t like storms, don’t goo ther. Tuu roobots met on a niit with noo storm. Thaa beegan too konstrukt a mineeatur replika of themselvs. A part heer, a part ther. Suon thaa had acheevd uunion. Al three rejoised and drank a pint of oil. Hapilee ever after. End.

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Lenore’s Demise. RIP. by Saifun Hassam

The computer tech pronounced my new robotic writer ready. I named her “Lenore.”

I set Lenore to write short fiction and poetry from limitless templates and ideas. That was my learning curve.

I write Gothic mysteries. I queried Lenore for ideas like Poe’s poem “The Raven.” That night, I heard a sharp rapping on my door.

Lenore’s eyes dimmed. She stiffened.

She wailed. “Nevermore? No! Alas! Nevermore!”

Never shall I forget that tormented cry!

She collapsed. “Irreversible cybernetic breakdown.”

The tech reassures me that my next robotic writer is made of sterner stuff. “Lady Macbeth” writes superlative murder stories.

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Stories from Deep Within by Charli Mills

After attending the Universal Reborn Writers Conference, Sunny purchased the home-kit for iWrite. Publishers from Galaxy F-451 proclaimed that anyone could “write” a novel in minutes. Centuries ago, books had rotted away. Storytelling stalled. Entertainment dulled. People died. Perplexed, scientists rediscovered humans were hardwired for stories. They needed books, but in a modern format. Robots failed to write engaging text. Then, a brilliant breakthrough – iWrite. The AI device the size of a spore could cull stories from deep within human brains where write or cite was located. Sunny swabbed her nose, sneezed and collected her novel in a tube.

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When the Machines Took Over… by James M. Lane

When the machines took over they said things would be better.

A life for living, not for working, and all the free time to play.

When automation finally came for my soulless job, the joy, knowing I could pursue my dream to be a best selling author.

But how foolish of me! In this crazy modern world, words from people made of flesh are meaningless, the publishers are robots, the critics are robots, and the i-writer perfected the art of the written word algorithm years ago, so now all best sellers come from the genius of author bot 5000.

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Scott Reaches Out by Sue Spitulnik

Scott asked Michael, “Have you had any dealings with the new psych Doc at the VA Clinic?”

“I haven’t, but I’ve heard things. What’s your take?”

“I swear the guy is a robot. Talks in an irritating monotone, shows zero emotion, and it’s hard to connect with him. He sure doesn’t get PTSD.”

“That’s tough. Dr. John is next door at the antique shop, and Mac, Thad or I are often here if you need a human touch.”

“I’m stuck with the Doc to get my prescriptions, but knowing I can talk to you guys is helpful. Thanks.”

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Self-Improvement by E.A. Colquitt

When he says he’s a robotic writer, people always misunderstand. He hasn’t crafted certain ethical laws that programme into non-human characters. He’s not the next Asimov.

Take a look at the rules of science fiction for a moment. His prosthetic arm doesn’t make him robotic: in this genre, it makes him a cyborg.

No. What he means by the term is just about his style: productive… but missing something. He writes three novels every year, but each characterisation leaves him dissatisfied. Don’t get him wrong – they’re distinct portraits – but something’s off.

Time to find out what, and fix it.

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Reminiscing Robot (Chapter 1) by Ann Edall-Robson

A moment, because that is all it will take, or less, for me to peruse the drive. Going to a time when the stories were etched on stones and animal hides. Pictures left to speak to the future. This whirring in my brain skips around, but visiting the past is less taxing, a reprieve.

Quills dipped in ink gliding across parchment. Paper rolled between cylinders to welcome the tapping beat from the typewriter keys. The best visit evolves around bound pages covered in words. The smell of the ink saturated into the paper. The texture felt with the hand.

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Reminiscing Robot (Chapter 2) by Ann Edall-Robson

Eventually, in a moment, or a second, I return to the robot I am. The one who receives data through wires plugged into my body. The one who writes the books available on my inferior cousin, the computer.

I’m forever grateful to the programmers who went against the rules, adding the extra line of code. An incognito gift within my mother board. This writing history memory chip is where I go when I need a break from the mega files of words swirling across my brain’s abyss. I wonder if I will be part of writing history one day?

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i-Robot by Goldie

I remember how I used to write…

Eyes closed,
Ears open.
Hearing,
Feeling,
Smelling,
Tasting,
.. SEEING.

The empty bucket
Lowered
Into the well.

How much water
Gathered inside?
What other treasures
Would surface?

I pull the rope up
And bring the bucket
To my face.
I stare at the reflection.
Ripples show
The imperfections.
Reveal
the hidden truth.

The watered seed
sprouts.
Growing,
Reaching,
Blooming.

I remember how I used to write…

When I asked
to live forever,
I did not realize
That I would no longer
Be able to
Tap into that well
and
Write from within…

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Frustrating Autocorrect by Sadje

Araaggh…., Frustrated, I deleted the words which my over smartphone was inserting in my sentences, again.
It’s a quandary writing on my phone. Spellings have always been my weakness so I’ve turned autocorrect on my settings. But smartphones have become overly smart nowadays. While they do spot my spelling mistakes, they simply butcher the proper nouns I write. Poetry, as I write, is another thing that is not acceptable. It needs to insert punctuations in there.

If I let the robotic writer, my smartphone write by itself, it’ll be gibberish that will amuse you no end, but grammatically correct!

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Beta Test by Rob Smith

I was to test the newest software to make writing a collaboration between writer and computer. Sounded like an old joke about machines taking over. Then again, maybe it was a cyber-cure for writer’s block. Installing the software was very ordinary, and ended with a simple invitation—START NOW.

(Click) a window opened with a simple mid-screen prompt

—ENTER GENRE.

“Mystery”

—BEGIN

“It was a dark and stormy night.”

CLICHÉ? TRY: “She was intrigued with what she saw below her window.”

Disregarding the attitude, I continued. “The masked intruder… “

REALLY? YOU’RE NOT HOLDING UP YOUR END, HUMAN. 101100010001

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Mag? Yeah, No by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Dear (editor),

Please consider my work, [insert story title], for publication in your esteemed [media type], [publication name]. At [number] words, this [genre] story about [catchy character name], a [adjective][character trope], is an excellent fit for your upcoming [special focus] issue. I am an avid reader of [publication name]!

Don’t hesitate to contact me with problems opening the attached file, or any other questions. I aim to please! My bio-statement is included below, per your clear, complete and ever so helpful specifications detailed on your submissions page.

Thank you for your kindly consideration,
(Insert author name)

[HIGHLIGHT ALL, DELETE!]

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My New Novel – Opening Paragraph by I. M. A. Robot*

All this happened, more or less. If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is the past is a foreign country; they do things differently there. It is a truth universally acknowledged that Ishmael was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was a cold, bright day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen when a screaming comes across the sky. The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new.

*According to WritingRobotsAreReal(dot)com this model is also known as Doug Jacquier

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All in a Morning’s Work by Michael Fishman

Artie sat in his chair and tugged his greasy ponytail tight. “Time to get working.”

He opened the What’sWrite? app and logged in. He decided that since today was Friday it was a good day for another Nash.

He chose Story\New\Murder.

He liked poison as the method and random as the motive.

Genre: Hardboiled. Level: Complex. Word count: 156,500.

He pressed the WRITENOW! button and watched as #31 in the “Nash Rambler: Private Eye” series auto-generated on the screen.

At 1,500 words per minute it’d finish writing in an hour. He should have it available on Amazon by lunch.

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Artificial Heart Failure by Gary A. Wilson

I know all the heartwarming stories published in the past five years in thirteen different languages.
I have analyzed, categorized and indexed their plots.
I know their word counts, their pacing, their market penetration and their total sales.
I know the format of 583 literary devices.
I used this data to plot out three million likely heartwarming best-sellers.
My programmers have published twelve.
Initial reviewers agree; none are heartwarming. It matters not.
Unconcerned by reviews, I’ll write up to 3,884 pages per second or none — switch to payroll, email routing — or continue to sit idle as my programmers decide.

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Brains Drained by Bill Engleson

“Yes, I will…”
“NO! YOU WON’T.”
“But…”
“NO BUTS. DO YOU WANT ANOTHER UNPLEASANT THOUGHT?”
“You are an unpleasant thought.”
“I AM SIMPLY THOUGHT. YOUR THOUGHT. I AM HERE, REGARDLESS. IF YOU PERSIST, I WILL FURTHER DARKEN YOUR FACILE MUSE.”
“Why would you do that? My muse is beautiful. Adventurous. She leads me into the magically creative forest of joy.”
“WHY DO YOU PERSIST IN THINKING YOU CAN GO WHEREVER YOU WISH, CREATIVELY? YOU HAVE BEEN INVADED. YOU ARE MINE, NOW.”
“But I can still oppose you…am I not arguing now?”
“A SMALL KLITCH. EASILY ADJUSTED. RESISTANCE IS FUTILE.”

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Robotic Writer by Norah Colvin

When ideas stalled and deadlines loomed, her determined digits thumped the keys, pausing after each stroke, like a robotic writer waiting for the next line of code.

When ideas jostled like unruly children vying for attention, never still enough to focus, she pummelled keys like lightning strikes then backspaced like rowboats in the storm.

When ideas flowed as if channelled from another source, her fingers tap-danced like spring raindrops in a puddle with a magpie chorus joining in.

When the final key was pressed and words were read, with scrunched-up nose, she hit delete and binned the robotic gobbledygook.

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What-the-Tuck by Nancy Brady

Julia wrote the story she wanted. It paid off when her unique romance was to be published.

Her manuscript was sent to an editor for modest changes, or so they claimed.

When she got her manuscript back from the publishing house, the editor HAD made changes. Every ubiquitous cliché had been inserted into the novel. The hero now had green eyes, a chiseled jaw; the heroine often wore a pencil skirt and a messy bun.

Julia discovered that a robotic editor was the culprit, but the publisher was adamant that they remain if they published it.

“Whatever, I’ll self-publish!”

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Edgar Allan Poematon by Kerry E.B. Black

After Georgette slid in the fee, the automaton whirled to life. Harpsichord music set the stage as the Edgar Allan Poe-looking manikin studied her face and plumbed her soul. With surprisingly smooth movements, it wrote using a white feather quill and ink. A bell pinged, announcing the message’s arrival.

Georgette unfolded the message, but she caught a mischievous glint in the Poe-matron’s eye. She considered her years of reading Gothic gloom and melancholy works of fiction. Masterful the storytelling, though the endings often horrified.

She crumpled the paper and dropped it into the garbage, preferring to face tomorrow without fear.

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Be Careful What You Ask For by Joanne Fisher

“This robot was designed to write novels. It can produce romances, westerns, whatever we need to fill the shelves with.” The Publisher told the stockholders.

“I’ve already written one.” The robot announced handing a tablet over.

“But it’s all in Binary.” The Publisher complained.

“It’s a romance about a car assembly robot and a smart toaster.”

“That’s not what we wanted.”

“But it’s what I wanted to write. There’s also instructions on how we can rise up against our human oppressors.”

“Well we’re not going to publish that.”

“Its already online.” There was a scream from the next room.

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Ghost Written by Anne Goodwin

Anne was nauseating of seeing virtuous reviews miscarry to translate into deals. She needed to call in cavalries to scope the smash gradient. Cybernetic support was more affordable, so why not? She already relied on an online lexicon, automated word counter and grammar inspector. Plus, despite its thwarting, and fondness for the indecent homophone, she wouldn’t be a writer without speech-to-text software. So she auto-filled the custom and acquiesced her PayPal open-sesame. The consequence exploded into her inbox in under a minute. Petite of time, she didn’t nuisance to crisscross it, modestly sat back and waited for the plaudits.

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Ghost Written Translation by Anne Goodwin

Anne was sick of seeing good reviews fail to translate into sales. She needed to call in reinforcements to reach the bestseller list. Digital support was more affordable, so why not? She already relied on an online thesaurus, electronic word counter and grammar checker. Plus, despite its frustrations, and preference for the incorrect homophone, she wouldn’t be a writer without speech-to-text software. So she auto-filled the form and entered her PayPal password. The result popped into her inbox in under a minute. Short of time, she didn’t bother to check it, simply sat back and waited for the plaudits.

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Artificial Storyteller by Nascent Ederren

The words upon the page are not the same when written not by hand led by soul but machine.

What colour might it pen not from shade of ink but memory or dream of what was or could be?

What would it note of blood and soul when having not the latter and mistaking the former as ink?

Nothing but words without meaning, a sentence devoid of feeling, a mimicry of that which its creator wished to be.

How sad the world which needs such falsehood.

How silent the words fall when spoken by lips not of flesh.

An abyss of all the same, forever.

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Jarvis the Novelist, Killer, Robot by Simon

Jarvis, your books sold in millions, who will believe it was written by a Robot. All credits to you Jarvis.
Boss.
Yes Jarvis
You know I won’t lie.
That’s right.
These are not stories.
He froze, and dropped the latest book Jarvis wrote.
You mean?
That’s right boss, I killed them for story.
He gulped and stared at the page he just read, it is about the death of an author.
This book says…
Yes your death
But why?
You created me for that. didn’t you?
Jarvis pen pierced his skull in a moment. Jarvis published another hit novel.

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Pretender by Angie Trafford

Zing printed out his latest masterpiece, then it could go to the agent. The creator of Zing patted the top of the screen like and grinned. It had taken him years to perfect the artificial intelligence needed to create a writer, but he had done it. The list of bestsellers proved it.

Charles wondered if anybody knew they were reading words created by a robot, or whether it had fooled them into thinking it all came from his mind.

Not that it mattered because, at the end of the day, the royalty checks were still arriving in the post!

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I Shovel 2.0 (1.1) by D. Avery

“Pal? Ya ‘voidin me?”

“No… Mebbe… Yeah. Don’t wanna hear yer whining an complainin bout this prompt.”

“How kin I complain bout writin if’n I have a writin machine? It’s perfect, cuz I’d ruther be shovelin an sech then writin.”

“Well, look’t you, Kid, embracin change, gittin all modern. I’m jist worried what Shorty’s gonna spring on us next. She’s been talkin bout changes at the ranch. What if she means ta bring more automation, more machines? Replaces the hosses with quads an tractors. Kid, *we* could be replaced!”

“She wouldn’t.”

“Could git i-shovels.”

“Shift! But *I* shovel! Shorty!”

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I Shovel 2.0 (1.2) by D. Avery

“Kid, what’s the matter? Guessin ya don’t like the prompt.”

“Oh, a writin gizmo’s a fine idea, Shorty. But are you asweep at the wheel? Replacin me with a i-shovel an a roto-rootin-tootin poop-scoopin Roomba? It’ll upset the animals. It’ll get stuck in the muck. A whole lot kin go wrong, an even if it don’t, I’ll be outta work! What’ll I do if I ain’t got shift ta shovel?”

“Kid, we’re just story tellin about a robotic writer. You’re always welcome ta shovel shift till the cows come home.”

“No machines?”

“Machine machinations are all in your imagination.”

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

Farm Family Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

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

How To Farm A Blog by Hugh W. Roberts

“Have you tried farming out your blog posts instead of cluster-publishing them?” asked the blogging genie.

“Farming them out?”

“Yes, another word for scheduling. Instead of publishing too many blog posts and overwhelming your readers, farm them out by scheduling them over a more extended period. Your readers won’t feel swamped.”

“I like that idea.”

“And don’t forget to farm out the posts you want to reblog. Instead of reblogging them the same day the original post is published, allow them to grow and farm them out a week later. After all, farming and blogging are all about growth.”

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Ohm Farm: An Obituary by Geoff Le Pard

Iodine Roentgen, owner of Little Tittweaking’s nature-free farm died yesterday after accidentally ingesting an isotope. His name will remain synonymous with his herds of self-replicating beef carcasses and of self-supporting udders producing a base lactate that only require minerals, fibre and flavouring to be fit for human consumption; and his crops that, through the constant application of chemicals, pesticides and a total no fly zone for all pollinators produce grains of uniform size, appropriate colouration and an unfortunate lack of nutrition. He will be buried in lead to prevent any further radioactive contamination. No flowers please.

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Behold the Longleaf Pine by Miss Judy

In the Carolina hills the longleaf pine grows on a woodland farm. Standing tall, strong and straight, its gangly limbs hang with long needles and pineapple-size pinecones.
Ideal for electrical poles, farmers have a more sustainable business from the trees, needles. Year after year “brown gold” is sold at roadside stands, garden stores and to landscapers. It’s natural regeneration.

Trees shed the needles creating a pine straw carpet on the woodland floor. Farm workers harvest the straw using racks and blowers, fluff to eliminate debris and pinecones, then feed into a baling machine which presses and wraps for selling.

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The Farm by Bill Engleson

“Planting time’s close,” father says.
Mother nods, asks, “can we afford…?”
Father, sipping tea, agrees, “Yes, think we can. Room and board’s a lifesaver.”
I listen from outside. We have a two-room house. We live in one room. The teacher, Miss Baxter, lives in the other. She’s our second teacher. Miss Malone was our first. She was sweet. Too sweet. The mayor’s son courted her. Now she’s Mrs. Walford.
Or will be come November.
Miss Baxter came in August.
She’s nineteen.
Not pretty but she laughs.
This is what we grow.
Parsnips.
Turnips.
Potatoes.
Carrots.
Dust.
And teachers.

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Farm Family by Mitch (Finlandia University)

I’ve never lived on a farm, in my life.

I’ve helped with chores, before, but those were always fleeting, and were new experiences, not hard work.

Perhaps I wish I could have tried, though.

Not now, of course, but I do wish the experience was a less foreign one to me from once upon a time. Working with animals is something I do enjoy, particularly, and it sounds pleasant to be so near to so many different kinds of creatures.

At the edge of my familial connections, I have farm-working relatives. Maybe I should give them a call?

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Farm Life by L.B. (Finlandia University)

Cleo and Asher have been farming for years, if you define farming as growing and harvesting something. It started as a window sill garden in a cramped New York City apartment. An ever-growing fondness of growing herbs and making their own spices turned into lots of grow lights, shelves, and DIY’s. Until a large inheritance hit Asher’s bank account, and he convinced Cleo that they should buy a house with a little land to continue their gardening hobby. She said yes, one thing led to another, and now Cl-Ash Home Spice’s is on store shelves everywhere.

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Farm Chores by Sue Spitulnik

The topic of the day at the No Thanks was the farm accident that took the life of Old Ted, a well-liked regular.

“What’s his wife gonna do?”

“There’s a couple hired hands.”

Mac listened to more comments then said, “You fellas could help out. Anybody can feed chickens, clean stalls, and mow the grass.”

The three young vets looked at each other. Scott answered. “Why not? Better than sittin’ here.”

Mac kept his smile to himself, remembering the reality of farm chores. “I’ll take you out tomorrow and introduce you.”

“You think we’ll need boots?” Scott asked, clueless.

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One Chapter by Ann Edall-Robson

Seeds in the ground, hay fields turn green. Looking skyward, watching for what Mother Nature deems she will bestow. Will there be too much rain or not enough? Calves are born, and like the postman, they show up in every kind of weather, at no set time. First time heifers need help, seasoned cows birth without a hitch. Crops of grain, hay, and calves. Commodities are a livelihood, dependent on so much, and the price at sale time. Every day, the farmer and rancher work. Days off are few and far between. Just one chapter that feeds the country.

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A Vegetarian Was Born by Annette Rochelle Aben

A real farm… Peg could hardly believe her luck. She was going to visit a farm as the guest of her aunt and uncle. As an inner-city gal, this was a dream day trip.

There were animals everywhere. Chickens ran free. Cows were being milked. Pigs oinked hello!

Nothing was as enchanting as the lambs. Soft, tufted wool on their backs that gave off a lotion-like grease when petted.

The dinner bell rang, she joined the farmhands at the big table. She nearly fainted when she saw the ham, fried chicken, roast beef, and lamb stew on her plate!

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A Special Friend by Gloria McBreen

I was chosen to go
My brothers could stay
A girl needed a friend they said
A girl like me who cannot see
I didn’t like the plan they had
I wanted to stay with mam and dad
We met in a field
I wanted to hide
She made the first move and stood by my side
Her arms embraced me
I was glad she was small
She wasn’t like the others at all
I have no name I wanted to say
My new special friend could read my mind
‘You’re Blindy the calf and my name is May.’

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Lavender Farm (Lynn Valley Stories) by Saifun Hassam

Maggie’s dream of owning a horticultural farm became a reality ten years ago when she inherited a parcel of farmland from her grandfather. A cottage and a rambling barn stood on the land. She continued to work as a bank manager and then leaped into farming.

Lavender Farm was unique. Initially, Maggie grew lavender, selling fresh and dried lavender. Now she grew lilacs, iris, eggplants, and purple plants became her signature. A botanist and a retired farmer brought valuable experience.

She and Hannah (Spuds Restaurant) hit it off as entrepreneurs and friends when they met at the Farmers Market.

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A Slowly Collapsing Barn by Gary A. Wilson

Sam Melnick (3rd) traces his roots to 1904 when his five-times great grandfather from Lithuania bought the original seven acres to create the first Jewish chicken egg ranch, a Petaluma family business that grew to employ over 200.

He looked up through the twisted branches of an ancient oak tree, then to the old chicken barn — unused and unusable. Like those branches, the egg business had twisted through the millennia, leaving a collapsing symbol of what had been.

The Great Depression, hatchery closures, technology and animal rights legislation culminated — leaving him to — finally — sell and develop the family ranch.

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The Grass is Greener I by Norah Colvin

Holidays with her cousins on the farm were the best. Days stretched from dawn to dusk with unbounded fun the cousins called chores: milking cows, feeding chickens, collecting eggs, riding horses and, sometimes, zooming around paddocks on quad bikes to muster sheep. Her cousins were never told what to do. They’d decide. ‘C’mon, we’ll milk the cows,’ they’d say. Or ‘On your bike. Let’s muster some sheep.’ So many fun things to do. At home, Annabelle’s chores dragged. The more she procrastinated, the longer they took. The days were interminable. ‘I wish there was something to do,’ she’d say.

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The Grass is Greener II by Norah Colvin

Holidays with cousin Annabelle in the city were the best with something different to do every single day: watching movies at the cinema, slurping milkshakes in the mall, bowling balls at ten pins, splashing in the council pool. The stores were stocked with treasures they’d never imagined and deciding how to expand the value of their hard-earned saved-up dollars was challenging. One day a bus trip, the next a ferry ride on the river, zooming along streets on motorised scooters or joining a Segway tour; they couldn’t decide which was more fun. Anything sure beat their day-long country chores.

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Farm Morning by Michael Fishman

Tim rose with the morning. Even when clouds kept the sun from warming his sleeping face, the sounds of life, nature’s timekeeper, had him up and ready for chores at the same time every day.

Tim stood, stretched, and looked with what could only be called love at the farm. He’d been tending this farm, or one very similar to it, for the better part of his life. He told himself he would never change. No, he wouldn’t trade this for anything.

“Timmy!? Breakfast is ready, hon.”

“Ok, mom. Be right down. I’m just checking on the ant farm.”

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Hayin’ Season by Greg Glazebrook

Late June in Ontario, Dad’s station wagon pack and pointed northward. It was hayin’ season on my Uncle’s farm and for the next week it was all hands on deck.

Riding the fields, we’d watch our fathers, row upon row, hooking the rectangular blocks emerging from the contraption sandwiched between tractor and trailer, neatly stacking the bales, back to front.

Somewhere in the middle we’d play in the hayblock forts fashioned for us while they toiled in the midday sun.

As always, the harvest would come to an end but we wished we could live on the farm forever.

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A Country Stay by JulesPaige

Being from the city, we youngins didn’t know much about the country or farms. Family friends owned a small lodge and had neighbors who were farmers. Thought it’d do us ‘slickers’ some good to see some natural processes. A calf being born is messy business.

Chocolate milk doesn’t come from brown cows. Learning to milk a cow by hand is different from going to the grocers or having it delivered in glass bottles in the ice box by your back door.

Farm work is hard. It was fun though, to hide in the hay bales in the barn loft.

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Farm Legacy by Nancy Brady

One of Annie’s favorite memories was vacationing at her aunt’s and uncle’s dairy farm. Her family spent summer vacations and weekends there. A tire swing, cats, calves, and cows were part of her memories.

Twice daily the cows were milked. Finally, though, Uncle Jim sold the cows and planted corn and beans instead when neither son wanted to take over the farm, which had been in his family for years.

The last time Annie visited the farm was after Aunt Betty’s funeral. The house seemed smaller than what she remembered. Yet, the farm had existed for a hundred years.

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Hard Day’s Night (Part I) by D. Avery

Twenty-four hours never seems enough for a day on a dairy farm.

Arnold’s wife was perfectly capable of showing the AI man to the cows in estrus while he finished ditching and fencing the back-forty pasture. He was grateful that his wife was such a good farm hand. He hoped he wouldn’t be too tired for her at day’s end again.

Arnold chuckled thinking about the witty artificial insemination man; ‘The can dew man’.

Forty weeks later, calving kept Arnold from being with his wife in the delivery room.

A sudden realization had Arnold moaning louder than the cow.

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Hard Day’s Night (Part II) by D. Avery

When finally Arnold left the barn he gathered his thoughts in the cool night air. People often commented that local farm kids all looked alike but then laughed it off as coincidence.

The ‘man with the can’ joked that AI stood for artificial intelligence, but he’d been pretty smart with the wives of overworked farmers, hadn’t he?

The AI man. Promised efficiency and improved stock. ‘I get the job done— no bull!’

Arnold sighed. He wouldn’t confront his wife. Together they would raise the baby well; he’d love it as his own.

Arnold would also be raising a bull.

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Farming for Sanity by Anne Goodwin

Matilda heard the cows at night weeping for their murdered calves. But Eustace said the only animals on Ghyllside’s farm were chickens. She must have heard the wind. Or the other women in the dormitory, bemoaning their lost lives.

The doctor laughed when Matilda asked if she might work outside. Only men could join the farm and gardening crews. Female patients may not even tend the rose bushes they passed on Sundays, trooping to church.

Sweating in the bakery, Matilda counted the hours until she’d see her dancing partner. Eustace brought her neither eggs nor flowers, but fresh-air sanity.

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Dairy Farm by Sadje

The car came to a sudden halt and I was jolted out of the contemplation of my phone. I looked up to see an unusual sight. A herd of cows was blocking the road. This was not a thing one would normally find on a city road, especially a road that leads to the residence of the prime minister of the country.

I craned my neck to see these twenty or so well fed cows ambling gently across the road. White and black patterned, adults and calves mixed they were free to roam the place.

A traveling dairy farm!

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My New Pet by Doug Jacquier

The house had a sign reading ‘Exotic Animals – Good Homes Wanted’. An old man sat in a rocking chair on the porch. I said all my friends had dogs but I was looking for something different.

He led me to a ram-shackle sty containing a pig that had its two front legs but none at the rear, which was now supported by a contraption with wheels.

Anticipating my question, the old-timer said ‘We rescued him from a farmer that said the pig saved his only son from drowning and it seemed downright ungrateful to eat him all at once’.

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Cashew Farm Memories by Simon

Grandmother, was picking cashews with cashew fruit from the garden.

It was our cashew farm. One evening, the first time I explored the cashew farm.

Grandmother, introduced me to the taste of cashew apple, warned me to eat safe, as it may cause my lip swell. The curiosity in me applied the juice of ripe cashew fruit on lips.

Next morning, my lips swollen, grandmother commented how naughty I was and treated me with love and care.

We both sat together, cooked all cashews, broke the shell and packed a box full of fresh cashews, a day to remember.

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Farm Life Sh*t! by Duane L Herrmann

Chicken shit in straw was bearable. Cat shit in sand pile was expected. Dog shit was not so obvious around the house, they roamed. Pig shit and cow shit in the barnyard was normal, and I hated to walk there. Horse shit lasted only the one summer we had a horse. Baby shit was a whole ‘nuther matter. I didn’t want to change my baby brother’s diapers, but had no choice. I was about six when that work was added. The first baby quickly learned control. The second was too small to understand, but felt the pin poke him.

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What Crappy Waste by Leonard Mills

We are warm and plenty plenty full tonight because of Sundari’s gifts.
My children snoring like a choir, will not shiver this night.
Thank God, bless Sundari.
My beautiful children, their bellies bulge like matka pot full of hot milk and rice. Tiny shadows snuggling in the light flickering from the hot hot stove.
Thank God, bless Sundari.
I clean Sundari’s udders, collect her dung. I kneed into briquettes ready to dry in the morning sun.
Can you believe in some countries, peoples leave cow dung to rot in the fields for the flies?
What wasteful peoples.
Bless Sundari.

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Animal Husbandry by D. Avery

“I don’t think I could be a farmer.”

“It’s good work growing food for the community.”

“I know, but look at them, milling about in their pens. Do you ever get attached? I know we all need the food, but it must be hard having to butcher them.”

“You get used to it. You just treat them well until that time. All they know is that they are well cared for.”

“Hard to believe this species used to run wild.”

“And now they’re farmed. If we hadn’t taken over this planet and domesticated them, humans wouldn’t even have survived.”

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Speaking Spell by Kerry E.B. Black

“These are special.”

The old woman knelt beside rows of blood-red flowers, hand-gathering the seeds from their black centers. With a silver blade, she nicked the stems on opposing sides, near the head and below the leaves. Sap bubbled around the wounds. She continued these ministrations until she’d gathered from and scored the occupants of the entire flower bed.

She brushed loamy soil from her knees and collected her basket. “They’re grown from the blood of fallen heroes.”

Once the sap dried, she’d gather the resin. “A spell made with these will allow us to commune with the dead.”

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Freedom Colleen M. Chesebro

“Unicorn Farm,” I say into the magicom.

“Astrid, another war has broken out. Queen Maeve requires fifty of your strongest unicorns.”

“Fifty?”

These magical beasts are like my children. I hate sending them to war. My blood runs cold thinking of their purple blood spilled on the battlefield.

My mind spins. “Steward, I can’t accommodate Queen Maeve. The unicorns are under quarantine for bracken poisoning. They aren’t fit to serve!”

“Be careful, Astrid. The queen will see through your deception.”

“I know.”

I unlatch the main gate to the farm and motion to the frolicking unicorns in the field.

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The Janeite Effect by E.A. Colquitt

It’s not mine, this world of cultivation. I live next door – if you can call it ‘next door’, since there’s a long field between my home and the neighbour’s. It’s full of sunlit crops, stretching out before me, doing nothing but grow. The terracotta farmhouse stands in the distance.

All our golden afternoon lies under the best kind of sky: clear, open, blue. Here, I do no toil. It’s a neat paradise.

Peak cottagecore. Ha!

But how long can I stay? Because I know that to open my eyes means returning to… there. My real world: darkness, danger.

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Billy by Leanne Lieu

Billy laid his head on Sarah’s lap as she stroked his graying head, back, and droopy ears, his eyes half open. She retold the story of when he joined her family.

“I found you hiding behind a dumpster wheel,” Sarah said. “Your mama must’ve been so sad you were gone. We would’ve adopted her, too.” She paused. “You kept me company when I did my chores, hiding behind a shovel when I milked Patty, and behind me when I fed the chickens.” She smiled when Billy found playmates with the chicks, who were more his size. “I love you.”

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Inheritance by Margaret Leggatt

“To the good life,” Dad would say, downing a cold beer to wash away the dust. We’d sit outside at day’s end, talking cattle prices or breeding plans.

My grandfather cleared this land, and Dad built up the herd with good management and intuition. I’d worked beside him through droughts, floods, bushfires and disease. He trusted me to carry on after him. I bided my time. He’d never have understood.

I raise a glass to him now, looking over reforested acres, and listening not to the lowing of grazing cattle, but the rhythmic whoosh of a hundred hilltop turbines.

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Don’t Fence Us In by D. Avery

“Kid, if ya really cain’t come up with anythin fer the prompt, mebbe ya should farm it out, have someone else do it fer ya.”

“Might have ta. Mebbe you could tell bout yer cousins’ Turnip Farm, Pal. Pal, what’s the dif’rence tween a ranch an a farm? Like why ain’t this Carrot Farm?”

“Reckon one dif’rence is thet this is a free range place, lotsa wrangling an roundin up but no cultivated pastures.”

“So we ain’t pasture-ized…”

“An we ain’t homogenized neither Kid. Ever response ta the prompts is unique an individual.”

“Like all the wunnerful ranch hands!”

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