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When Monkeys Fly

monkeysFlying monkeys figure in science, fantasy and bar room predictions. History has much to reveal about or on behalf of flying monkeys. When monkeys fly, a story unfolds.

This week writers explored why and how monkeys fly and entertain us with stories for when they do. Flying monkeys offer an interesting backdrop or streak of color to flash fiction.

The following are based on the November 2, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using flying monkeys as a device or phrase.

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Possible Outcome by Sherri Matthews

Once upon a time, there lived a rich man who believed that one day he would be the President of America.

“No way!” laughed his parents.

“You’re an idiot!” mocked his friends.

Scandal followed the man in his bid for the Presidency, but that didn’t stop him gaining popularity everywhere he campaigned. Those who had once made fun of him started to think he might just do it.

Others, horrified that such a thing could happen, said flying monkeys would fill the skies before he won, but since evil clowns now ruled the streets, some believed anything was possible.

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Little Miss Baker by Irene Waters

“Crate all the monkeys. ‘Cept her” Carrying her, cuddling her.

At home Miss Baker learnt arithmetic and alphabet. At work, anything, even in a tube wearing a rubber and chamois jacket and helmet, providing she got cuddles.

Hugging her,tears filled his eyes. John loved her yet capsulised her, attaching oxygen.

Countdown. “Please come back,” he whispered knowing none had survived reentry. 38 gs contorting the face he loved, her body weightless.

“16 minutes, altitude 48o kms.”

” Distance 2,400 kms. Touch-down in Atlantic.” John couldn’t watch. Excited screams. “She’s alive!”

On marrying Big George 2 years later she wished she was still a flying monkey.

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Wicked Witches and Flying Monkeys by Kerry E.B. Black

When her husband branded her “wicked witch” before company, Amanda filed for divorce. Name calling in public was the newest humiliation and abuses.
The court awarded child support and alimony, and Amanda invested in a business, a bar. The hours allowed her to care for her children during the day, and the building’s upstairs apartment kept them in proximity through last call.
She devised bewitching drinks and hired a cook. With care, she hung stained glass and fine stemware.
A mutual friend asked, “What will you call the place?”
A fan of irony, Amanda smiled. “Flying Monkeys, of course.”

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The Flying Monkey Twins by Ann Edall-Robson

In the shade of the old wagon little ones sat in awe, listening to aging woman speak of her childhood. Her favourite story was not her imagination playing tricks with her mind. She had been there the day the monkeys flew . . .

“We gathered from behind our mother’s skits. Unafraid of the menagerie chained to the wagon bed. They filled the field at the edge of town. An odd lot of wagons filled with laughter and gayety. Bright colours streaming from tops of the circus tents. The lady with a beard, prancing horses, gum drops and the trapeze monkey twins” . . .

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Flying Monkeys, A Tale of Discovery by Gordon Le Pard

The monkeys flew across the room, trying to catch the fruit that bobbed like balloons in the air.

“Rest Sahib,” the servant mopped the forehead of the delirious man.

He saw how the stronger monkeys always caught the fruit, how they grew bigger until he was screaming in terror. As the fever abated and he awoke to a tropical dawn he knew what it meant.
He knew the secret, knew how species changed, he had to tell someone, there would be a mail ship soon. He sat down and wrote – To Charles Darwin, Downe, Kent.

The letter changed everything.

***

Author’s Note: Charles Darwin had delayed publication of his theory of evolution for nearly twenty years, he was finally forced to publish when he received a letter from Alfred Russell Wallace, who had come to the same idea when he was suffering from fever.

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Danni’s Circus (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli MIlls

Danni’s yard had become the local circus. Instead of flying monkeys she had ten canine clowns.

By nine weeks, the puppies were the biggest attraction in town. Tourists gathered and Deputy Erikson cruised by daily. He informed Danni she could keep the litter up until twenty weeks unless she was training any, and at that required a special license.

Twenty weeks. Danni would let the circus run away before she lived with this chaos that long. It was time to sell the clowns. Yet, she looked at the male, Bubbie, and wondered if she should apply for a license.

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Corrupt Compassion? by Jules Paige

Oz. It wasn’t all that wonderful of a world, that dark side
that showed the green face of a scary witch and her flying
monkeys. Yet, when you read the book “Son of a Witch”…
by Gregory Maguire, you get a different view. Not all is what
it seems. The monkeys are loyal friends and companions
doing more than just what they are told. So they have wings
and can fly, so do fairies.

Needless to say in the end…or continuance of Baum’s
Magical world – one gets to feel some sympathy for Elphaba,
Liir and his green child.

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Temple Monkeys by Anne Goodwin

Swinging from trees, scampering over stupas, stealing snacks from tourists, offerings from pilgrims. Scrambling up stone steps to assemble on the tiled roofs to pick the lice from each other’s fur and mock us, their cousins, our movements so ungainly, so slow.

I came here seeking solitude, the peace to heal a life gone astray. I’d leave perhaps with answers, a tidier mind. I had as much chance of that at the zoo.

I sit and watch and, little by little, their mischief makes me smile. They’ll teach me if I let them. To laugh. To fly.

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Monkey Mischief by Norah Colvin

A no-show nanny, insistent emails, and bills to pay: the verandah seems the best solution. He can ride his trike or play with toys; with the iPad backup if necessary.

It’ll be fine, won’t take long.

Then

Incident #1: Laptop flat

Easy: Power cord

#2: Cord short, stretched high

Solution: Be watchful – won’t take long

#3: Trike stuck, wails

Extricate it

#4: Again!

Ignore attention-seeking, almost done

#5: Demands iPad monkeys

“Soon!”

#6: Snatches credit card, laughs, runs, daring

“You little monkey!”

#7 Monkey trips. Card flies, disappears between boards.

Wails.

“It’s okay, Mummy.”

Grimaces: It’ll be fine

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A Day at the Zoo by Diana Nagai

Erin guided her daughter Chloe to the monkey cage. The adoption was still fresh and mother and daughter held hands tentatively.

Chloe spied a juvenile monkey pacing high in a tree, its mother gracefully swinging below him. Unexpectedly, the small monkey launched himself from the high branch and fell several feet through the air before catching the branch where his mother waited. The two began a game of chase, delighting their audience.

Chloe whispered, “Mama, they’re flying!”

It was the first time Chloe had called her mama. Erin gently squeezed Chloe’s hand and scarcely whispered back, “Yes, they are.”

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Flash Fiction by Marigold Blooms

They sat at the edge of the pier, toes wiggling in water. “Daddy, I don’t want you to go.” Sophie’s sadness added to his overwhelming dread. “I know, but I’ll be home soon.” He wondered, as he started his eighth year, when she might stop believing him. Tears ran down her cheeks. “C’mon, let’s play,” hoping to distract her. Wiping her nose, she rested her head on his shoulder and inched in to snuggle. “Look, I see a duck.” “Too easy,” Sophie laughed at the clouds. “I win! See? Two flying monkeys!” God help me get home, he thought.

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Reading Between the Lines by Geoff Le Pard

Penny read from the paper. ‘Local man, Sam Dobbs was found guilty of threatening Chin Lo. Dobbs claimed Lo was cooking monkeys but Magistrates found Lo had said ‘Try a flying monkey’, a new cocktail and not, as alleged ‘Try a frying monkey.’ She looked at her father. ‘That’s so funny.’

‘I’m not sure Mr Lo would find it funny being threatened.’

Penny looked upset. ‘No. I didn’t think.’

Paul kissed his daughter. ‘It’s written for laughs. Not your fault. Do you know what such misunderstandings are called?’

‘No.’

‘Chinese whispers.’

Penny frowned. ‘Isn’t that racist?’

Paul laughed. ‘Touché.’

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Flash Fiction by Pensitivity

Her Daddy had promised a special pet for her 16th birthday, but this was what she got, a boring field trip to some out of town shack store called ‘The Flying Monkey’.
No cute marmoset, no Justin Bieber capuchin, not even a stuffed chimp.
Some birthday this was. Her friends had all been given cars for their 16th, but her Daddy couldn’t afford one. A pet monkey had seemed a cool alternative.
Passing her a pair of overalls, the burbling of an engine made her turn.
The Flying Monkey was a plane and her present was a flying lesson!

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Flying Monkeys (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

Jane’s eyes are glued to the computer screen. The library is oddly quiet tonight.

She’s ostensibly working on her research paper. Type one sentence, check one fact, return to election live updates. Add a citation, couple more sentences, tab back to the updates. She’ll have to use all the battery her phone has, back at her abandoned house, to track this all night.

So far, so good, for the address she used for voter registration. Now what she needs is a President who will address her issues.

Back to the tracking screen. Don’t make me call my flying monkeys!

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The Charge by Bill Engelson

They came, as would a plague of locust, this horde of Brace Caldwell’s hired sycophants, evil-winged simians, neither men nor beasts, but, rather, some horrific malfunctions of a careless God, galloping in a sinister storm of grit and terror, shrieking guttural sounds meant to raise the dead and frighten infants not yet conceived.

Dobbs issued one final command to Henry and Aggie. “To the death for them, comrades, for surely their cankered hearts have no room for mercy.”

And then, the appalling heat met the riders dust.

Rifles cracked.

Gunsmoke spiraled.

Blood poured through the streets of Union City.

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Beyond the Zone! by Lisa Ciarfella

Hector cursed them; damn financial aid forms!

Jumping through hoops, that’s what this is. How the hell do they expect me to get all this filled out by Friday, with three papers, two exams and a final to suffer this week? Like monkeys flying bat-shit all over campus, it just aint gonna happen!

What he needed was cash. Lots of it, and now.

The line grew longer by the second, and sensing his out, he took it! The grey gun metal felt cold to his touch in his pack as he raised it, passing the point of no return…

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Flash Fiction by Florida Borne

There are flying monkeys that soar from one tree to another, and flying squirrels that glide through the air. A species has to aim toward flight long before it actually gets there, but it only took dinosaurs around 10 million years to turn into birds.

Before you start to laugh, remember that the galaxy is over thirteen billion years old. As a comparison, if you lived to be 1300, it would’ve taken 1 year of your life for dinosaurs to turn into birds.

I, for one, am not looking forward to running from flying giraffes, cheetahs, badgers or platypuses.

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Monkeys Can Fly by Joe Owens

The Yankee fan sat at the bar waxing philosophic about his championship rich franchise.

“My Yankees could win every year if Steinbrenner was still there!”

“That’s bull,” The Red Sox fan replied. “Even Epstein ran out of magic! He was so bad he had to go to stinking Chicago! The Cubs will be World Series Champions the same day a monkey starts flying!

The bartender turned up the sound on the television as he listened to the men and grinned as he realized his bet of the Cubbies winning Game 7 in extra innings was about to pay off.

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Tales from Kansas (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

“Then the witch sends out winged monkeys to stop the farm girl from Kansas.” Jesse Williams read Sarah her favorite chapter from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Sarah sipped her tea, not wanting to leave the warmth of Jesse’s family parlor. “I knew of a real fantastical man from Kansas.”

“Tell me, Sarah!” Jesse seemed more of a child than a near-grown woman of 16. Maybe it was because Sarah felt so old. She was ancient.

“He came to Rock Creek after wresting a grizzly bear.”

Jesse’s Dad coughed, and laid down his newspaper. “You knew Wild Bill Hickok?”

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November 2: Flash Fiction Challenge

november-2Clouds stiff as meringue coast overhead and cast shadows upon the red and white sandstone pillars of Zion. I watch as light returns, then gives way to shadow again. The cliffs, canyons and mesas morph in the obscuration of partial clouds. Reds deepen, crevices appear, whites highlight. It feels like watching a live kaleidoscope. All this show, and I also indulge in an afternoon cappuccino and crepe. I think of flying monkeys and wonder what shadows such creatures would cast.

My visit to this tourist hamlet of Springdale today is to uncover stories of flying monkeys. If Virgin (where I now live) is the gateway to Zion Canyon, then Springdale is the doorway. Tens of thousands of people pass through Zion National Park daily during the height of season. Despite a warm sun and partial clouds, tourism is receding. And no, flying monkeys did not chase off anyone. But I want to know more about them, and starting at the wood-fired grill of their namesake seems right. I have coffee at Me Me’s next door.

When I enter The Flying Monkey, savory smoke grabs me; my nose convinces my stomach to let my mouth experience a pizza here. There must be magic enough in the aroma to make monkeys fly. I return to my mind when the hostess approaches. I’m here to ask about monkeys not the fire-roasted pineapple and cilantro pizza.

“So, about the flying monkeys, ” I start to say.

“Oh, you want to know about our name.”

“I know where you get your name. I live in Virgin below Hurricane Mesa.”

“Oh…I’ve been up there…camping…”

“Did you see anything?” I’m excited now. The hostess may actually be an eye-witness.

“It was dark. But I always look at that strip and think about them, you know.”

“Me, too.”

“They all lived!”

“Really?”

“So I’ve heard.”

“Who is the local expert on the flying monkeys?”

This is how I often begin historical research. Casual conversation. I know what you’re thinking, how can conversation about flying monkeys be casual. I listen for rumors, look for odd local business names, seek the resident story-tellers. Today, I got two hits. Maybe the jeweler on the other side of Me Me’s knows something or perhaps the man across the street at the tire shop. The hostess tells me they’ve both lived in the area forever. She’s from St, George and this is her second season working in Springdale.

Geology opened this Pandora’s box. I wasn’t looking for flying monkeys, but places to rock hound. After my first big adventure in southern Utah, the one sliding across slimy red clay in the rain, I came home with some local jasper. I bought a book, Rockhounding Utah: A Guide to the State’s Best Rockhounding Sites. That’s where I read about Hurricane Mesa and it’s curious feature (in addition to agates and petrified wood). Author, Gary Warren, warns:

“There’s some private property up on the mesa now, so be sure to heed any posting. Be especially careful not to enter the test track area. It may be tempting, but it is a great big no-no!”

Knowing the military had a test track up on a mesa piqued my curiosity. That’s when I dug deeper into aviation records locally and discovered that in 1955, the Air Force developed a facility on Hurricane Mesa to test jet-propelled airplane ejection seats. Looking up at that mesa every morning, I think how tempting the big no-no is. Not only am I curious, I’m visual. I want to see what there is to see. And that was before I knew about the flying monkeys.

Now that we are officially Virgin locals (not to be confused with virgin locals), we find other locals readily talk about this magnificent area with a unique history. Filmography has convinced us this is the Wild West, but reality is rooted in Mormonism and mysterious testing. The Mormons pioneered to this geological land of wonder, once home to Paiute, Navajo and perhaps even Anasazi. Tensions between cultures led to deadly encounters. Global tensions after WWII led to the terrifying testing of nuclear weapons for which this area was fallout. We often hear tragic family stories of generational cancer. One John Wayne movie filmed here is reputed to have led to the deaths of all involved by cancer.

Locals tell us radiation surrounds us as much as geological beauty.

Do monkeys fly because they are local aberrations? Creatures resulting from radiation exposure? A Native American myth? A mushroom picker’s mistaken identity? Another local writer’s unchecked imagination? No. The answer is found back on the test track at Hurricane Mesa. Monkeys flew as live test subjects in the jet propelled and track ejected cockpit pods. Before men tested the ejection seats, monkeys did. And, so far, according to local lore or wishful thinking, the flying monkeys all lived.

November is, of course, NaNoWriMo. It’s the perfect season to write a first draft about mysterious government testing, monkeys and how women might have been involved. That is always my angle — history often forgets women among men and monkeys, and those are the stories I ultimately seek. However, No NaNoWriMo for me. More like, November is NaNoRanCho month. With a new home, office and ergonomic chair, I’m ready to get back to my ranch.

You might think that statement as odd as, well, flying monkeys once soared over Virgin, Utah. Why not “get back” to writing novels. First, I never stopped. Each week I work on revising two novels, in fact. Some weeks my revisions are processing, some weeks are filling research  gaps, and more weeks are needed for constructing transitions and new material. I’m not on a deadline for my novels. Perhaps if I had an agent or active publisher, my schedule would be different. As a marketer, I also know I need to have a well-crafted final manuscript for sale and a well-crafted platform from which to launch my books (like flying monkeys).

Carrot Ranch was originally a website I started when I left my last marketing job. I did marcom consulting, spoke at national workshops and managed communications for business clients. But as I worked on my first novel, I felt disconnected to my literary goals. I made the leap and transformed Carrot Ranch into a platform with a literary focus and a flash fiction challenge. No matter what I do, I always want to do good in the world. I began to focus on supporting a literary community. When my own personal crisis hit with a series of setbacks, including getting scammed by the publisher at Go Idaho and getting evicted from our home (and my office) because the owners thought it would sell better empty, my community helped me get through.

Much has changed since last November when I had high hopes for completing my second novel, launching our first anthology and setting up writers retreats in beautiful Sandpoint. A lot of the work I did, such as creating a library program called Wrangling Words and hosting a successful BinderCon event in Montana, has gone aside. Our anthology was delayed as I dealt with issues of homelessness. My confidence and plans felt shaken. But shit happens. I may not be able to control the circumstances, the injustices or recoup what I lost, but I can choose how to transform and reinvest in my platform, my writing and my community.

Therefore, I’m taking a NaNoWriMo-like daily focus on writing a new business plan for Carrot Ranch as a non-profit to support literary writers around the world with weekly flash fiction challenges, encouraging responses, an annual anthology, collective promotions (community books and blogs), contests for good causes, literary craft insights and practical marketing solutions for the everyday writer.

Carrot Ranch is my platform and it also belongs to the community here. By the end of the month, I’ll have all this crafted into a plan. I’ve retained a lawyer for the non-profit side; a designer to complete our first-still-in-the-works anthology and create a branded look for the continuing series; and an academic advisor to help me create a survey that will reveal what writers need to complete a practical and individual marketing plan.

While I’m sad to let go of my dream of having writers retreats in Sandpoint, I enjoyed the writers I did get to host at Elmira Pond. I missed out on one of our own Rough Writers who had plans to stay. I’m grateful I didn’t shut down the ranch, although I admit I’ve struggled mightily to keep my focus and presence since that awful day in March when we were told our lease would not be renewed. Many good turns have happened and in the end, I did deliberately choose my next home to be an RV. We could have rented, we could buy next year, but we own this RV outright and it meets every basic need have (and when you are homeless, you come to understand clearly wants verses needs). It gives us options.

And it has a chair that allows me longer stretches of writing! I didn’t share my greatest challenge: that how we were living led to debilitating pain. I could barely meet ranch duties each week, only write in short stints and I couldn’t read for long. I’ve had three back surgeries and without an ergonomic place to sit or sleep, I developed nerve pain in my legs, shoulders and hands. I thought it would take time to build up to my previous level of desk-marathoning, but the new home-on-wheels with it’s proper bedroom and real bed plus an ergonomic chair and office space has me happily pecking away at the keys. What a relief! I now have a choice of recliner or couch for reading, too. And I’m continuing my walking and pool therapy. Thank you, to all of you’ve who’ve hung in there with me.

I feel like I can start dreaming and doing again. So, of course, I believe in flying monkeys. First, a few shots of the new Carrot Ranch office:

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November 2, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using flying monkeys as a device or phrase. As a phrase it can be something like, “When monkeys fly over Grandma’s tea party.” As a device, you can use flying monkeys as characters (a circus act, astronaut companions, zoo critters). Think of what they are doing and why. How can flying monkeys inspire you this week?

Respond by November 8, 2016 to be included in the compilation. Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

***

Danni’s Circus (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli MIlls

Danni’s yard had become the local circus. Instead of flying monkeys she had ten canine clowns.

By nine weeks, the puppies were the biggest attraction in town. Tourists gathered and Deputy Erikson cruised by daily. He informed Danni she could keep the litter up until twenty weeks unless she was training any, and at that required a special license.

Twenty weeks. Danni would let the circus run away before she lived with this chaos that long. It was time to sell the clowns. Yet, she looked at the male, Bubbie, and wondered if she should apply for a license.

###

Tales from Kansas (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

“Then the witch sends out winged monkeys to stop the farm girl from Kansas.” Jesse Williams read Sarah her favorite chapter from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Sarah sipped her tea, not wanting to leave the warmth of Jesse’s family parlor. “I knew of a real fantastical man from Kansas.”

“Tell me, Sarah!” Jesse seemed more of a child than a near-grown woman of 16. Maybe it was because Sarah felt so old. She was ancient.

“He came to Rock Creek after wresting a grizzly bear.”

Jesse’s Dad coughed, and laid down his newspaper. “You knew Wild Bill Hickok?”

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