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Danger Zone 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.

A Near Miss by Anne Goodwin

When the light flashes on my dashboard, I consult man in greasy overalls, who tuts and tinkers and charges me for my ignorance, but my car is safe to drive.

Beneath my skin my body is as much a mystery as that engine, but I can sense when some organ misfires. The scientific version of a fortune teller reading tea leaves, men and women in laundered scrubs can diagnose the problem through my blood. That’s if they are willing to wield a syringe and test tubes. The chap I saw refused to act until I’d reached the danger zone.

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An Eyeful by Geoff Le Pard

The last corner before you enter Little Tittweaking is a notorious blackspot. There have been a few car-tree interfaces, but mostly the damage is psychological: the driver is found whimpering, with his or her eyes tight shut. This danger zone results from the unfortunate juxtaposition of Mrs Pendulous’ Bauble Emporia on one side and Auriola Snatch’s All-weather Nude Yoga classes on the other. Many’s the driver who mounts the verge when confronted by Colonel Guy Rope’s downward dog, as reflected against that day’s bauble, certain they will be crushed by a ginormous pair of rapidly approaching testes.

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Eating at the Danger Zone by Nancy Brady

Going to an upscale restaurant causes anxiety for me; however, it wasn’t always that way. The first time it happened at a nice restaurant. One bite caused a reaction. A dose of epinephrine stopped it. Once diagnosed, it was easy to avoid by asking if there were any pine nuts because of a life-threatening allergy. Much later, it’s another restaurant, another bite, and then, anaphylaxis, a trip to the ER, and an overnight stay. Eventually, even cross-contamination of utensils causes minor reactions. Would another accidental bite be the one that caused death? Despite Epi-pens, it’s the Danger Zone.

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Revelation by Michael Fishman

His next step would define the rest of this life.

He sat, legs overhanging the rock ledge, watching the waterfall in front of him. He listened to the water crash over the crest, he breathed in the mist that rose to the sky.

He leaned back, closed his eyes.

Analytical to a fault he ran the scenario through his head repeatedly. He would leave someone behind, would they care? But he might make someone very happy? Both paths uncertain. Both carrying varying degrees of risk and danger.

What do I want? he thought.

He opened his eyes and smiled.

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Taking Risks by Ann Edall-Robson

Instinct told her the fence, and its guise of safety, was only a few steps away. Body and camera ready, positioned for the action shots, she waited for the bull and rider to explode into the arena. Taking the chance over and over until someone yelled at her, “Get to hell out of the arena.”

“Outside!” Came the call from inside the chute. 

​Breathing in the adrenaline, she held her breath. Waiting for the gateman to make his move to pull the chute gate open. The photographs were worth the risks. She was now truly in the danger zone.

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Jumping by Sue Spitulnik

The conversation at the No Thanks was about parachute jumping. One veteran said he couldn’t wait to get the chance because he loved bungee jumping and wasn’t disappointed by the adrenaline rush of stepping into thin air. Another admitted it wasn’t his favorite thing to do but had learned to accept it as part of his job. Mac was quiet until asked directly. He collected his thoughts before speaking. “Parachuting into a safe landing zone is beautiful and reverent. But, floating through a hail of bullets or hopping off a hovering helicopter in a hot zone was absolute hell.”

Author’s Note: Mac is a Vietnam veteran that owns the No Thanks Needed bar and grill.

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Facing Fear Saves the Day by Frank James

A window-washer screamed, “Help!”

Judd dashed to the edge of the building’s roof. The washer dangled from his Bosoun’s Chair. Judd’s thoughts vanished as he tied off a rope, stepping over the edge. Basic Training flipped through his mind, reciting repelling steps. His heart pounded stepping down. He stammered. ‘I will help,” He paused releasing his hand. Thud, halting at the platform. He scrambled to the man, pulling him on the chair.

“Thank you! How did you get here?” The washer said.

“Stupidity masked as bravery,” Judd said.

The man smirked, “I’m glad it did.”

Firefighters pulled them up.

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Don’t Turn Back Flight Attendant by Padmini Krishnan

Siam Mendes steadied his hands on the control. It had been 6 hours since they lost contact with the Air Traffic Control. Their pilot was dead and the co-pilot was being restrained by a group of stewards. Amidst screams and swears from the co-pilot, Siam tried to concentrate, recalling the basic training he had as a recreational pilot. A slick aircraft flew to his right side. An angry face from the cockpit peeked out and a hand brandished something. Soon another lightweight flew to his left. Then the radio beeped soothingly, ‘’Mr. Mendes, can you hear me?’’

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Danger Zone by D. Avery

The reporter put aside the binder of articles and commendations, all citing the husband’s legendary calm and commonsense, unflappable even under fire.

“I’m interviewing you.”

“Me?” She pulled nervously at the long sleeves she wore even on this warm day. “There’s nothing to tell.”

She wouldn’t tell how she holds him when he shakes and cries after a harrowing shift. She wouldn’t tell how she endures his punches when he’s in a drunken rage.

“Every time he leaves for work, I fear for his life,” she offered.

She wouldn’t tell how she fears for her own at his return.

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Danger Home Duane L Herrmann

Screaming came first, then forced submission to do her will even though I objected and had physical limits, physically hit and screaming forced to swallow vomit, a concussion, and continual humiliation. It was constant hell plus torment by a younger one. Suicidal first at two, then nine years later I learned how. Not allowed independence, then criticized for not taking initiative. No decision was good enough and labor often fell short. There were no kind words, no affection, just labor demanded in very precise, exacting ways. I didn’t have to go far, my Danger Zone was my childhood home.

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Pariah Pupils by Kerry E.B. Black

Katey clutched books to her chest, head down, as she scurried through the crowded hallway. Accustomed to loneliness, and preoccupied with personal matters, she ignored classmates’ daily interactions. They, however, refused her benign neglect. In particular, a cliche of antagonists noted her and positioned themselves to intercept. Unknowingly, Katey blundered into their midst.

“Too good to talk to us, Katey?”

“How rude.”

“Bitchy much?”

Katey stammered, “Oh, no, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be rude.”

The queen bee of the group scoffed. “Really, why’s she talking to us?”

Katey’s mind whirled, unsure how she’d stumbled into middle school pariahdom.

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The Hidden Gamble by JulesPaige

The Bone Boys were addicted to greed. Joe watched carefully through a hole in the wall. Joe stayed out of sight mentally projecting to the piano player to tinkle the ivories with a tune he could at least, in his head, sing. Couldn’t give away his position in the false wall behind the bar. Staying overnight in lock up was better for the whole town. Joe’s Pop made sure to keep them boys’ whistles’ wet. If the ‘Boys’ started cheating, Joe was to fetch the sheriff right quick!

too much dust
for brains to make sense;
bad hoodlums

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Quicksand by Norah Colvin

Stop!

Why?

That’s quicksand.

I can’t see it.

That’s why it’s so dangerous.

It doesn’t look like quick sand.

It never does. Until you start sinking in it.

I don’t believe you. You’re just trying to scare me. I’m going in anyway.

Suit yourself.

Help! Help! Save me!

You don’t look like you need saving to me.

But I’m sinking.

It’s just your imagination.

You said it was quicksand.

I know, but I was joking.

Then why am I sinking?

You’re not sinking. You’re just  — disappearing into the ground? Yikes! It really is quicksand. Help! We’re sinking! Save us!

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The Best Rock Ever Pushed Down A Cliff by Gary A Wilson

It was just below the edge, a mammoth monolith-shaped boulder, visible to the whole Petaluma Valley, clinging to the cliff above the rock quarry.

“I’d bet Gary could push it loose.”

An un-resistible challenge. I thought. Couldn’t work – but slid down to try.

Unbelievably, the truck-size rock moved – then broke free.

The howl of crashing shale filled the valley.

Realizing it also kept me from falling, I scrambled up to the edge.

In slow-motion, it gained speed, gouging a trench, screaming destruction throughout the valley before exploding at the bottom.

“That was cool guys, but we should leave – NOW!

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Disappeared 24 by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Prohibition had ended in early 1933. The speakeasy had already expanded its offerings to other delights not quite legal. Whisky, with her solid head and an iron heart for business, still used the Scotsman’s interdimensional tunnel to transport and store these goods and services. The mage, fine man that he had been and surely a boon in his time, was no longer useful and had become a hindrance. He had to go. To his credit, he was aware. His dark, unruly hair had grayed, his dimples and belly softened. The Fates smiled with regret. Atropos picked up her shears.

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Jack the Ripper by Scott Bailey

Fog cloaks the chilly night, gaslights glisten feebly on damp cobblestones, the city sleeps. I prowl London’s side streets and alleys. The putrid stench of guilt exposing my prey. I hate what I’ve become but can these miscreants go unpunished? I follow a prostitute, dirty long skirt, ungainly stride, drunk. I know her type, laughing, ridiculing, belittling impotent Johns. She’ll pay. They all will. I grab her. She spins to me. A beard and a grimace surprise me as this imposter grabs my throat with powerful hands. Crushing my windpipe, he glares maniacally as life ebbs from my eyes.

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Dangerous Intruder by Sadje

The doorbell rang stridently in the quiet of the afternoon. Misha looked up from her computer and peeked through the glass panel of the front door. She couldn’t see anyone. Resigned, she got up to open the door a crack and looked through it. Still, no one was visible. But a frisson of unease ran up her spine. “Is someone there?” Silence….. She pushed the door to close and bolt but it wouldn’t budge. As if something invisible was hindering it. Suddenly someone gripped her hand and pulled her backward. She wanted to scream, but couldn’t make a sound.

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Danger Zone by MR Macrum

“We’d made a promise when we were kids that we would never see each other again. Yet, here you are on my doorstep and once again asking for help I cannot imagine giving you.”

“When I helped you bury that other friend of yours, I told you that was the last time. I won’t even loan you a shovel. Now take your sorry ass and ………….”

“Wait now. Let’s not get excited. No need to brandish such a large knife. You know what? Screw that promise we made when we were kids.”

“How can I help you old friend?”

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Killer Doc by Simon

Jessica, at her backyard, underground she witnessed a horrible murder, knife inside the eyes of the victim, the body shook deadly on its last moment. She felt to puke, held her mouth shut and ran fast to her house, she felt the shadow followed her all the way home, she checked one last time, the killer was staring at her at the end of street. Jessica, woke up with her parents aside comforted about the accident. What? accident? something strange she felt, her fingers, her tongue, missed with bandages. She screamed, unable to explain the killer was the doctor.

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Danger Zones by Reena Saxena

The title of his latest book is “Where there is no fear”.

The book cover shows his fingers tapping a keyboard and the image of a brain on the screen, with illuminated zones.

The message on the back cover:

“Danger zones are nothing but unfamiliar places, where we find ourselves powerless to respond in the right way. My characters have traveled all possible danger zones and conquered those.

This is where I’m today – in a zone where my imagination ends. Hence, this is my last book.”

The book is a bestseller. Everybody wants to see life at the edge.

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Just Don’t Look Down by Doug Jacquier

The boss always skimped on safety to save money. Kenny tried not to look down at the 60 foot drop to the concrete below as he moved along the 50 year old timber bearers that had begun to rot and split. The new corrugated iron would hold everything together for another 20 years; they just had to get it screwed down before the really serious winds came tonight. As the light began to fade and Kenny carried the last sheet into place, a gust carried them both off before Kenny could let go and they sailed into the sunset.

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Dead at the Canyon by Miss Judy

She feels her foot slip, feels the cool air, she’s falling. Trembling she awakes, skin clammy and cold.

The Grand Canyon, Arizona, its natural beauty – vast, wild, stark.

We left the arid desert, traveled past cactus dotted hillsides, snowcapped mountains glistened in the distance.

“Stay On The Trail!” A young man fearlessly climbed over the rail, onto a rock ledge; his friends watched, laughing.

He turned, catching the rock’s edge, and plummeted into the Canyon. An eerie silence then a bloodcurdling scream roused the visitors to the devastating reality. 

Years later, the chilling scene still haunts her dreams.

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Grown, Apart by Scott Bailey

Callouses have grown on my emotions where happy memories should have taken root. I never liked pain yet have grown too used to it. So for that, it’s goodbye. The danger zone is the unknown and my future is not known. Will I recognize pure joy if I see it? Will the confidence of my youth return or is my steely resolve merely a fools errand? Will I crash and burn because you’re not here? So for that, it’s goodbye. I’m older but wiser and braver than before and I want to embrace my future. So for that, it’s goodbye.

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Sometimes Little Brothers Win by Frank James

Billy stared at the cracked open closet-door as an owl hooted. Hastened breathing compelled him from bed. The night terrorized Billy, since his brother scared him with ghost stories. The door moved, and he jumped. His father popped in his mind, “You react to fear, so you control the outcome.” His eyes never separated from the closet. A tree branch scratched the window, and Billy froze. The owl hooted again, and Billy grabbed a bat. The closet door flopped open, and Billy smashed it!

His brother screamed, “Ow!”

Billy yelped, “I’m sorry.”

His brother replied, “I had it coming.”

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Dilemma by Hugh W. Roberts

Red lights flashed before his eyes, yet he felt the need to enter the building. He had an idea of what he would find once inside, but the danger would still be lurking. He had to be careful and ensure nothing or nobody threatened his life.

The fact that he was over 25 miles away from home helped release some of his anxiety. As he pushed open the door, adrenalin pumped through his body before danger stared back at him.

“Dad! What? I can explain. Did you follow me? Or did you know this place is a gay bar?”

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Rodents R Us by Bill Engleson

“We’re so glad you called us,” she said, the tough-looking babe accompanied by her terrier. “If its rats, my Petunia is a pretty good hunter.”

“Better your bowser than me,” I confessed.

That got a giggle out of her. Bowser on the other hand started to pooch-whimper, a squeamish yowl that halted the giggler in her tracks.

“Petunia, “ she smartly asked, “What’s got into you?” She then turned to me and said, “This should be right up her alley. Heavens, she is a Rat Terrier.”

“It was twice her size,” I embellished slightly. “Maybe Petunia’s met her match.”

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Write Over Their Heads (Part I) by D. Avery

“Hey Shorty.”

“Hey, Pal! Where’s Kid? Headed to the Danger Zone?”

“Kid’s still stuck in a self-made stone zone. Went an built a pigpen outta stone from the inside out, kep stackin stones up an up an overhead til it was over Kid’s head. Now Kid’s stuck there in thet pen.”

“Should I head over?”

“Kin if ya want. Last I saw, Doc Ranger was tryin ta talk Kid outta there. Kid sent me ta git a pen fer ta write a way outta thet pen. But I ain’t in no danger a Kid findin me here injoyin breakfast.”

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Write Over Their Heads (Part II) by D. Avery

“Kid! It’s me, Shorty! Why ever did you build the pig pen walls so high?”

“Jist kep goin I s’pose. It’s where the stacking stones prompt led. Now I cain’t climb out. Where’s Pal with that writin pen?”

“I’ve got it. I’ve tied a pen and paper to a rock. I’m tossing it over the wall for ya.”

“Yikes! I’m in a danger zone. Ow!”

“Sorry. Kid, I think it’s great you want to write your way out of this predicament.”

“Got to. Doc Ranger’s questions was drivin me crazy. Pal jist laughed. Here. I’m done writin.”

“Already? Ow!”

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Write Over Their Heads (Part III) by D. Avery

“That was some quick writing Kid. Can’t wait to read the conclusion to this unbelievable fictional conundrum. Maybe you’ll use this week’s danger zone prompt to blast your way through a wall with dynamite. Or maybe Pepe and Ernie will come up with some whacky scheme to get you out, maybe with the hot air balloon, or Aussie’s zipline. Maybe Curly will go Lassie again and tunnel you out. Kid, did you write the resolution in 99 words, no more, no less?”

“Less, Shorty. Jist read it.”

“‘Fetch a ladder.’ Huh. That’d do it.”

“Yep. Kept it simple, Shorty.”

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

Stacking Stone 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.

Stacking Stones by Norah Colvin

Active children were everywhere — throwing, skipping, climbing, swinging, laughing, playing. But over in the garden, on the gravel path, one child was stacking stones.

“What’s he doing?” a visiting teacher asked.

“Jack? Counting stones. He’s been doing it for days now. At the end of playtime, he tells me how many he stacked.”

“Why?”

His teacher shrugged. “He likes counting, I guess.”

“Is he okay, I mean, you know —”

“Oh, yes. He’s completely fine. He just wants to see how high he can count.”

“How high has he got?”

“Twelve.”

“How far does he want to get?”

“Ninety-nine.”

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Her Favorite Memory by Scott Bailey

One summer, Mom and me spent a week at the “Tip of the Thumb,” Port Austin, Michigan. At a state park on the pebbly shore of Lake Huron, Mom spread a blanket while I played in the cool water and stacked stones on the shore line. To warm up a little, I sat next to her and she put her arm around me. We laughed when she said my toes looked like little pink raisins. It was always sunny and warm on that blanket. Eighty years later, and not a day goes by I don’t think about that day.

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A Local Mystery by Nancy Brady

It’s not private, but this public beach was tucked away, a hidden treasure. Teens, especially, enjoyed the beach; on summer nights, they’d head there, start a bonfire, and chill with friends. One teen had always been fascinated with building things. As a toddler, Marco played with blocks. As a boy, he loved building things with Lego. So naturally, whenever Marco went to the beach, he’d gather stones together and build a tower. After learning about them, Marco built his first Inukshuk. When the rock tower was destroyed, he returned, resurrecting his Inukshuk. Marco secretly built them day after day.

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The Trail Home by Gary A. Wilson

“Oh – thank God!

“Ruthie, sit with Grandpa while I catch my breath.

“It’s my fault we got lost, Sweetheart. I used to know these trails, but I’m not young anymore.  Now – they all look alike.

“Here – let me dry those tears.

“Look – your mother has saved us.  See that stack of stones? I showed her how to do that and send a message.  We’ve seen other stacks, but that one is hers and her message is clear.

“It’s that one colored stone in the middle, unlike the others. She’s telling us to take this trail to find home.”

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Disappeared 22×2 (1-2) by Liz Husebye Hartmann

“Slow down, girls!” called Bethany. The Twins raced past the sign memorializing the 1937 disaster, scrambled up the limestone incline, and disappeared onto a deep shelf in the cliff.

Eloise dug her tennies into whatever foothold she could find, pulling herself past Bethany and onto the ledge. “Hold it right there, you two. We’re not leaving Mom behind.”

Bethany cursed her sandals, though they were casual Friday wear, pulling herself up beside her three daughters. “How do you know where to go?” she panted.

“Shadowman said look for the stone cairn, two right turns past the Speakeasy escape vent!”

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Disappeared 22×2 (2-2) by Liz Husebye Hartmann

“We gotta hurry. Andrew just got burned and he’s half-spelled!” Chuckie pulled Bethany to her feet.

“If he says those words, we can’t bring him back!” Ducks yanked on Eloise.

“Who the hell is Shadowman?!” snapped Eloise. “Is he another pervert from your dad’s…”

The twins froze, horrified. “Language…” They looked sidewise at Bethany.

“Oh screw that,” Bethany brushed the sand off her feet and drew a calming breath. “If Andrew’s in trouble, we’ve got to help him.”

Bethany’s heart pounded as she squeezed through the cold cave entrance. “Flashlight, Eloise. Now where is this cairn? You girls lead.”

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The Fairy Stone by Colleen M. Chesebro

“Grandmother, what’s the stone with the hole in it?”

“That’s a fairy stone, Granddaughter. If you peer through the hole in the stone, you’ll see into the Kingdom of the Fae.”

“How did it get a hole in it?”

“Moving water erodes a hole in the stone.”

“Okay, so why are we stacking these stones in a pile?”

“Granddaughter, we leave this cairn of stones to warn others of this magical place. Take the fairy stone with you and use it as a talisman against the evil eye.”

“Yes, grandmother.”

The tree dryads rustled their verdant leaves in approval.

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New Direction? (Spot On?) by JulesPaige

Morning fog
Reigns like bleached silence
Gray heron
Standing still
Balanced there like that stone cairn
Beyond the gates’ view

Since Gertie had gifted the secret garden to Jane, she had gone there at various times of the day. Always building another stack of stones in memory of what she had lost. One morning a heron came to the spring that always seemed to remain in the shadows.

The heron slowly walked towards the back green ivy covered gates, nodded, then flew off. Jane hadn’t noticed the hidden words. After gently pulling some ivy away she read; THE WAY.

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Open Sezme by Scott Bailey

“If I stack these stones in just the right order using just the right stones, the individual frequencies of each stone will combine to form a specific ‘word’ or ‘key’ and the boulder sealing the entrance to the cave will hear that and move away.”

“You get that, right? Everything has at least some measure of natural frequency and by blending them just right, a language of sorts is created.”

“There, the last stone is on top, I think I feel something happening. The stones are vibrating! The boulder is moving away!”

“Come on Lassie, our treasure awaits us!”

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Secret of the Stones by Hugh W. Roberts

“These stacked stones are where I buried Fluffy.

When I cried, Fluffy comforted me.

When I had nobody to talk to, Fluffy would always listen.

He was a big part of my life, but he shouldn’t have told me to keep our secret.

Things got a bit out of hand when I told my teacher, Mrs Price, the secret.

Fluffy got angry, so I had to kill him.

Now I come to the stacked stones and talk to him every day.

It’s a good job. Fluffy is only an imaginary friend; otherwise, we’d both be in lots of trouble.”

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Granite Grumbles and Other Rocky Moments After WW2 by Geoff Le Pard

Little Tittweaking’s survival depended on Herb Garden’s emetic gorse-flower cordial and Rocky Outcrop’s bespoke cairns. Returning soldiers had a Hobson’s choice: be perforated picking gorse-flowers or suffer from a condition known as Outcrop Flat finger from building untoppable stone pyramids. Neither business survived. Herb left to become a peripatetic priest, while Outcrop shut his factory after a strike – known locally as the Cairn Mutiny. Questioned what he intended doing with all the left over stone and how he’d make money in future, he told the interviewer not to worry as he planned on making mullions.

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Who’s Afraid? by Michael Fishman

An armchair historian, I sit with others like myself at Porkey’s eating Danish, sipping coffee, and remembering the invasion of Boarsville. The invader, a shaggy beast, filled his mammoth lungs and blew Boarsvillian houses made of sticks and straw to dust and ate the inhabitants. Three survivors huddled in the last house in Boarsville. A sturdy house of brick and stones that was impervious to the invader’s powerful breath. Exhausted and breathless, the invader took one last breath, wheezed, and dropped to the ground. The survivors poked him with a stick, then summarily skinned, seasoned, cooked and ate him.

Author’s Note: With thanks to James Halliwell-Phillips

History Stacked Against Us by D. Avery

“I’m not sure yet what I’ll do with these larger stones.”

“I have no idea what you’re going to do with any of these rocks Gramps.”

“Getting ready. These here? Perfect for chucking by hand. These ones? They’ll fit in a slingshot.”

“Oh. Then how about a catapult for the larger ones? Gramps, are you feuding with Mr. Nelson again?”

“No, that’s done.”

“Then why the piles of stones?”

“You’ve heard of World War I?”

“Yes, and I’ve heard of World War II. What’s that got to do with you stacking rocks?”

“I’m getting ready for World War IV.”

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When the Truth Is Revealed, Who Will Be Watching? by Miss Judy

On January 6, 2021 the US Capitol was attacked. Was it an angry mob incited by a Rally or a detailed, organized, planned attack? Who was responsible? A Committee has found the answers. Seven Hearings will reveal their findings and document for history the events leading up to and during that attack. American’s lives have changed. They are tired. The time for truth is now. Hearing 1 presented a Synopsis and previewed testimony. The next six hearings will give details; the case will be built, stone by precarious stone. Truth will be revealed. The World is watching. Are Americans?

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The Tower of Babble by Doug Jacquier

The cornerstone of the Tower of Babble that is social media is carved from the rock of truth, with all the inconvenient, pointy and lacerating shards of fact dulled and polished beyond recognition. The walls are the stacked rocks quarried from the heads of tall-tale tellers, with the resulting emptiness used as imaginary mortar. Unsuccessful climbers exit quickly, via the slippery slopes created by throwers of gaslit marbles. The rooftop can only be reached by staircases designed by Escher and there successful climbers will find luxurious couches fashioned from otherwise useless recycled bedrock, from which they gaze upon Hell.

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Held Together With Hope by Kerry E.B. Black

Three children gathered at the banks of Russet River. Connie, the eldest at twelve, drew smooth rocks from the mud, wiping them with an antique, embroidered handkerchief. “Pick stones with flat sides,” she instructed her friends Mary and George. “They’ll stack better.”

Building materials selected and cleaned, they closed their eyes.

“We place this first stone to represent faith.” They balanced a second atop, “for friendship,” and a third, “for good health.” From their pockets they drew small, treasured items and rested them atop.

“Accept our sacrifice.” George examined the structures.

“What keeps them from falling?”

Connie smiled. “Hope.”

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Teaching by Example by Sue Spitulnik

Michael sat at a strategically placed table, stacking and restacking seven stones until they all stood one on top of another. Then he turned to the female soldier in a wheelchair by the parallel bars watching his every move. “Walking with prosthetics is all about balance.” Ignoring his comment, she pointed at the stones. “That looks like a useless monument.” “It is, to our legs.” “And dancing. And being whole,” she whined. “Your mind’s whole. Embrace being different and flaunt it.” “How long did that take you?” Michael’s eyes twinkled. “Everyone’s different. Success depends on practice. Shall I demonstrate?”

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The Game of Sitolia by Ruchira Khanna

“Hurry up, and stack it,” Pran shouted at his pal, trying to pile the stones in order.

Pran’s eyes were wide, and his mouth was slurry as he called, “He is aiming the ball at us. Run if you can’t stack them.”

Jay raised his hands and shouted, “Done!”

“Darn it!” shouted Parv at Vishnu, “Couldn’t you have been two seconds faster? They won since they could stack the stones on time. They get to hit the pile one more time while we’ll have to chase the ball.” he lamented.

“Come on, Parv. It’s just a game; lighten up!”

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Un-glued by Reena Saxeena

“Stand away. Those stones can fracture your toe.”

“Don’t worry, Ma’m… the stones will not fall.”

“But I can feel a windstorm brewing.”

“Even then…”

I’m in the desert state of Rajasthan, and stone-stacking to build a fence around homes or farms is common practice.

“Have you used glue?”

“No.”

Back home, I make a candle stand with stacked glass blocks, and use transparent glue. It works.

Years later, I placed a painted glass on a glass-top table.

I’m still trying to unglue it.

The paint acted as glue.

Glass or stone … the difference lies in the glue.

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Granma’s Rocks Duane L Herrmann

Granma collected rocks. When she went on a trip, which was only after her children were grown, she would often bring a rock home. Along her flower garden, she had a line of rocks and each rock was different, yet they were all of similar size. The range of colors was amazing. More amazing, she could remember where each rock came from! Some could be stacked, yet we knew not to take them away. They were Granma’s rocks and special. No one else knew where they were from, or which rock was from which trip. Are they still there?

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Lost Homestead by Ann Edall-Robson

A trail led her to the base of a hill that turned out to be stacked rocks covered in moss and foliage. Was this the original perimeter of the land the group had been given permission to explore in search of a story? The stone fence ended abruptly, opening an additional chapter of the history surrounding her. In small clearings, stone huts had been built. Their roofs of hand hewn timbers covered with sod had slid into the cavity of the buildings. Their former existence left to the imagination of the observer. The lost homestead hiding in plain sight.

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Working Together Tears Down Walls by Frank James

“Why drag me out here?” Barak hollered at Joshua.

“I need your help,” he replied. They stood at piles of stones.

“Too much violence happens outside village walls,” Barak said.

Joshua began stone-stacking.

“Ludacris,” Barak snorted.

“It’ll do more than you know. Stones, please?” Joshua asked.

“Only a fool builds just one wall,” Barak snickered.

Joshua believed, and the pair worked through sweltering heat. Barak looked at Joshua, “Well?”

“It’s the perfect height,” Joshua kneeled.

Joshua peered up, “We built this wall hoping to tear others down.”

Barak prayed, too.

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Seven Stones (Pitho) by Sadje

Pitho was a very popular game when I was growing up. Two teams of minimally two players each could play this outdoor game. All you needed was a tennis ball and seven flat stackable stones.

This game involved hitting and scattering the pile of stones with the ball and then trying to put it together again without getting out. It was a wonderful way to run, use excess energy and have lots of fun.

Seeing this photo took me back many decades. We kids were able to entertain ourselves without any gadgets or devices.

Beautiful, fun-filled youthful days!

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The Wrong Turn by Bill Engleson

We’d gotten turned around. Trails crisscrossing, the sun teasing us with bright splashes, greens, greys, yellows, crazy fiery colors zipping in and out of the tall trees, a kaleidoscope of shooting stars blazing into our eyes, hurting our eyes.

“A day hike,” Langston had said. “What could go wrong!”

Nothing did really, except we were lost.

Langston stared at the Forest Service map he’d downloaded. “It may be dated,” he finally conceded.

And then we saw the stacked stones. Moss layered. A scrawled note in cellophane. Lost! Starving! FAREWELL! These woods are hell- John and Julia, May 4, 1968.

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Unturned (Part I) by D. Avery

“What’s it Look like I’m doin Pal?”

“Looks like ya’ve got a heap a stones an now yer stackin em jist so, Kid.”

“Buildin a wall, Pal.”

“On Carrot Ranch?! Someone there is thet don’t love a wall.”

“Buildin four walls. Gotta pen up Curly, she’s gittin inta everthin lately.”

“Ah! To a piggery, go!”

“Climb outta the Poet Tree an hep me Pal.”

“Nah. Injoyin this vantage point. Ya seem centered Kid.”

“It is satisfyin, workin with stone.”

“Surrouned by peace?”

“Yep.”

“Them wall’s gittin real high Kid. Ain’t no way Curly’ll git out.”

“Nope.”

“Or you.”

“Shift!”

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Unturned (Part II) by D. Avery

“Hey Kid! Whilst ya been buildin thet pig pen, I penned a buckaroo-ku up here in the ol Poet Tree:

when ya build yer walls

stones stacked from the inside out

leave an openin

stones unturned keep Kid penned in

no key fer a gate ain’t there

“Heehee! Kid ya built thet pen aroun yersef with no openin!”

“Tanka very much fer watchin me do it Pal. Now git me out.”

“I’ll think on it. Here’s Doc Ranger. Mebbe she kin hep ya outta yer enclosure.”

“I can try, but Kid you have to really want to get out.”

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Unturned (Part III) by D. Avery

“Why a course I wanna git outta this stone stacked inclosure Doc Ranger. Why wouldn’t I?”

‘That, Kid, in the final analysis, is the key question. How do you feel in there?”

“Feel trapped Kid?”

“Didn’t feel trapped til ya brought it ta my ‘tention Pal. No, I was injoyin stackin stones. Was admirin the patterns of the walls. Feels comfterble in here.”

“Kid yer stonewallin. Yer trapped in yer new pig pen. A stuck Kid.”

“Shush Pal.”

“Kid, what are you escaping by penning yourself away?”

“Jist gimme a pen, Doc, so’s I kin write myself outta here.”

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

Memorials 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.

Who Is To Blame? by Hugh W. Roberts

‘What are the crowd looking at?’ Ingrid asked herself as she came out of her final writing class.

It was too crowded to find out, so she returned later.

As Ingrid’s eyes peered hard at the poorly-made brass plaque in the moonlight, her life changed instantly.

In memory of the brave authors who fought and gave their lives to stop the outlawing of hardcover and paperback books.

It wasn’t the lack of trees but the use of fossil fuels to charge up electrical devices that almost destroyed our planet.

But is it writing or reading that is the crime?

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In Memory of by Michael Fishman

Every year they visit the cemetery. They walk over lumpy grass. Past poplars, oaks, and elms until they stand in front of the faded granite headstone. They read the name. They read the words. They close their eyes and savor a memory. They say a prayer. They put a small rock on top of the headstone: to say hello, to say they were there. To say goodbye. They walk away again, and they cry. It’s said things get easier. The memories blur and the pain dims, but not hurting as badly still hurts. Who’d want it any other way?

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A Monument to the Dead, A Monument for the Living by Miss Judy

A MONUMENT

We see them…

A Cross, flowers, pictures, mementos to mark the spot  
A school, grocery store, shopping center or by a roadside
A tragic accident, a senseless killing, a terrorist act
A life lost too soon.

We see them…

A reminder and feel a loved one’s pain
A family, a friend stops to grieve, missing a smiling face, a laugh
A thought, a prayer, a promise given, a hope to share
A life lost too soon.

We see them…

A reminder of a life lost too soon.
A Monument to the dead.
A Monument for the living.

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Remembering by D. Avery

“Shut that fucking TV off!”

“Swear like that again I’ll shut you off.”

But the bartender pointed the remote and the news was replaced by a baseball game.

“Better?”

“Eh.”

Baseball wasn’t much better than the news. She signaled for another drink.

Her son liked baseball. Made the high school team. Dreamed of the majors.

“Stupid kids,” she said.

“What?”

“The news. Building a memorial.”

“Why not?”

“Doesn’t change a damn thing. Over two decades and nothing’s changed.”

Nothing, she thought, except dozens more parents were suffering like her from relentless grief, of dreams shot down with their children.

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Behind A Memorial by Ann Edall-Robson

We all stayed behind to see what the hubbub was about. Jaunty bagpipe music indicated a celebration. Much better than the usual solemn processions when a new resident is welcomed. A young lady stopped beside our group. She quietly said, “I can feel you near.” Not many connect with us, but those are the ones we treat with the respect they give us. When they leave, they take one last glance, whispering goodbye and promising to be back soon. They are the living we cherish. The ones that recognize us as the true reason and meaning behind a memorial.

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In Memory of Marcella by Nancy Brady

The memorial stone Julia passed on her walk around town was no longer a mystery. Julia had moved to the city; she wondered about this marker especially after a pine was removed, leaving the stone exposed. Julia eventually learned the whole story of the woman behind the memorial because she met and became friends with Shirley, Marcella’s daughter. After the pine was thoughtlessly cut down, Shirley started placing silk flowers at the stone throughout the year. Once Shirley became housebound, Julia took up the mantle. Julia still changes the flowers despite Shirley’s dementia because someone needs to remember them.

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In Memory Of by Sadje

A faded sepia print in an old-fashioned silver frame is all that I have of my paternal grandmother. Her eyes, much like those of my father and mine are serious in a face devoid of any makeup. The frame sits on a table in the family room where I often look at it. I remember her, if not with affection, but with admiration. She looked after us siblings, three young children aged 4 – 8 when my mom passed away. I’m sure we must’ve taxed her patience to the limit but she was always fair. May she rest in peace.

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Memorial of Inhumanity by Reena Saxena

How could they allow this structure to be built here, with scenes of gruesome violence? It offends humane sensibilities. 

And why do feminists choose only to portray violence against women, when there are so many atrocities happening to damage humanity?

“Aren’t we a part of humanity?”

They step back on hearing this voice from nowhere.

“This structure is a memorial to document inhumanity in the annals of history. It is a message that the era is now dead and over. If any of these scenes are ever repeated…”

They feel a strong force pushing them back, but see nothing.

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Memorial by Norah Colvin

As a child, he lived at Yuleba, a tiny town in south-western Queensland. His father was a boundary rider on the fence bordering New South Wales, keeping rabbits out of Queensland. A peaceful if difficult life. Aged 20, he enlisted. His overseas service included the battle at Milne Bay, a turning point of the war. Upon their return, servicemen were told to forget. Memories and nightmares disagreed, but it was years before he could talk, let alone write, about his experiences. After his death, his words were engraved on a memorial in his home town, never to be forgotten.

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Honoring Shannon by Gary A. Wilson

Dear Kent family.

You don’t know me. I was thinking about your daughter, wife and mother, Shannon.

I read about her gift for languages, how she fought and won a battle against cancer, and how she chose to use her skills in our Navy.

I also read how one person, an apparent non-combatant, walking past the restaurant where Shannon was eating — detonated a suicide vest, snatching her away from you.

The date: January 16, 2019.
The city: Manbij, Syria.
Shannon was only 35.

Her memorial is . . . insufficient . . . and, she left us with an impossible-to-repay debt of gratitude.

Humbly,

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Memorial to What? by Duane L Herrmann

In the village of Reckendorf, Bayern, as in most German towns, memorials result from the wars: one for the Great War, and the greater war later. My family name is on the stones; family I never knew, before my time, but we are still connected. These memorials, my cousin said (and maybe others), do not so much honor the fallen as admonish the living: “You caused this war. You caused these deaths.”

No victors here.

Maybe all living survivors should have such admonishement: You caused this war. You caused these deaths.

If so, maybe there would be less war.

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Flames of the Shoah by Tzvi Fievel

The kever (tombstone) of my maternal great-grandfather, Aryeh, denotes the name of his father, Dovid Shlomo, who was born in Kurland, Russia, and perished in Auschwitz. His last place of residence is listed as Szollos, Vynohradiv, Ukraine. This was to the southeast of where Kurland was located. Kurland became part of Latvia, northwest of Szollos on the Baltic Sea. The Jews of Kurland were expelled at the beginning of WW1, so he may have relocated to Szollos, Ukraine, where he was eventually swept up in the widespread net of the Reich, the same as my paternal ancestors in Bolekhiv.

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Memorial in the Marble Written by Kerry E.B. Black

Brom chose the marble for its fine lines and smooth surface, so like her admired skin, cool and pale with fine, blue veins. He ran a hand along its surface and recalled her reaction to his touch. Her shiver of anticipation. His surge of longing when she whispered his name. His eyes misted. He swiped away emotion with calloused hands, determined. Fellow artists advised against this project. Don’t mix personal with professional. Michelangelo saw the angel in the stone. Brom sought the memorial in the marble. With meticulous care, he marked and carved her beloved name onto the tombstone.

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Memorials by Geoff Le Pard

Little Tittweaking has no war memorial. It sided with the Zogs of Albania in the Great War and declared itself a Dublin suburb in WW2. Their only war hero was Colonel Hugh N’cry. Captured during the siege of La Plume de ma Tante, he sacrificed a body part to feed his starving men. Now known as the Battle of N’cry’s Buttock, it is remembered for the creation of the side-saddle, which was originally designed to support the lopsided seat of Colonel N’cry. A bronze cast of N’cry’s remaining buttock features in a memorial garden as a novelty birdbath.

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Private Enclave (Spot On?) by JulesPaige

Quiet sun
Island paradise?
Protected
Sacred space
A sanctuary for those
In recovery

As Jane grew comfortable with her new freedom, she found that she needed less time alone.
But she still needed time to reconcile the past, even though she could not control any of it. That she was able to save herself, with the kindness of Gertie Simple, and her people…that had to be enough for now.

Gertie had gifted Jane a secret garden with high walls. She could grieve there, let her makeup run… make cairns to those she had lost, and perhaps would never find.

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Disappeared 20 by Liz Husebye Hartmann

“Pull in here!” the twins shrieked as the jeep rounded a sharp curve. Bethany cranked the wheel hard onto a tight dirt road that ran between a wide bank of Honeysuckle and sandstone cliff.

“What the hell!” yelled Eloise. Her seatbelt tightened to a stranglehold.

The haunted mansion cast a chill shadow from above.

“The shortcut through the bootlegger’s tunnel’s here. So’s Andrew.” The twins tumbled out of the back seat, grabbing the first-aid kit and flashlight. “And Shadowman!”

On their heels, Eloise and Bethany slipped past the rune-scratched sign memorializing the 1937 cave collapse of Whiskey Nicolaysen’s Speakeasy.

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Out On the Old Highway by Bill Engleson

“Can’t miss it,” Bucky said as we downed reacquainting brewskis at the Curly Cue Lounge, a favorite watering hole before I grew up and left town. I was back to wind up my parent’s estate. They’d passed away together six months earlier.

After the funeral, I’d been hauled back to work.

This week was the earliest I was free to return.

Bucky’d just told me that Callie, an old girlfriend, had been fatally clipped by a Semi two months earlier.

“Flowers! Pictures! The usual roadside memorial.”

“Just walking?”

“Yeah! Her…her mutt. Want me to come?”

“Nah! I can manage.”

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Aftermath by Padmini Krishnan

His soul wakes every Memorial Day and wanders across various tombstones, confused with the crowds and flowers. Perhaps he is trying to find the girl in the green dress he never proposed to, his mother who had prayed for 10 years to have him or the enemy who had asked for water. Or does he look for a meaning to his short life or wonder about people who live beyond 22? Whatever it is, don’t go there. Let his soul rest. Light a candle for him in your heart and revere the freedom he and his likes gave you.

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Service Feelings (Part I) by E.A. Colquitt

When he saw her death announced in the paper, Thom thought he’d better go to the memorial. He hadn’t seen her in years – not to speak to – yet still he felt the pull to attend. It was his last duty – but would that really be to her, or to himself? The night before, Thom lay in bed, wondering – worrying, even, about the selfishness of it all. He didn’t think he’d fallen asleep, but her face fluttered above his head, behind his eyelids. She told him that she understood, now. She understood everything. She radiated peace and joy and love.

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Service Feelings (Part II) by E.A. Colquitt

He’d never known anything like it… unless it was Aunt Tessie, the family spiritualist, telling everyone about her son from a previous life. Then, he’d been a talented actor. Now, he reaches out from beyond the veil, to guide her in much the same way as this. Or something. Thom usually zoned out whenever Tessie brought it up. Wasn’t it all, he always thought, just a dream? By morning, he was less certain. The priest talked of Heaven’s perfect love blooming out of its perfect understanding. The dead long to share that state on Earth. Thom had felt that.

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Rapturicus Rodenticus by Scott Bailey

Pondering the Rapture, “Do we know when it comes?” I asked Elder Squirrel as we sat on a rock, reverently looking over a vast valley, fluffy tails twitching nervously.

“We never do, that’s why we look at every tree and rock as a memorial. Honor the Unaware.” He said.

“Maybe if we’re more aware we’d live longer,” I said, snidely.

“Maybe you’re right!” he yelled while diving off the rock into a thick bramble.

With a bolt from above, I became acutely aware my time had come, as the owls talons sank in deep, Rapturing me up to Heaven.

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Owls by Scott Bailey

“Going to the taxidermy shop today?”

“Yeah, pay my respects to my stuffed uncle, just sitting on a branch inside the window. Some Memorial, huh?”

“They have no respect for us Owls. I have to pick up dinner and get home or I’d go with you.”

“Yeah, that’s ok. Hey, look at those two squirrels on that rock. Ever wonder what they’re thinking about?”

“Each others nuts, probably!”

“HA, good one!”

“Yeah, that never gets old! Alright, say hi to your Uncle for me, I think I’ll swoop down and grab the smaller squirrel for dinner, see you tomorrow.”

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Immortally Memorialized, Presently by D. Avery

“Pal, how come they’s no memorials on the ranch?”

“Well, Kid, mebbe cuz Carrot Ranch jist IS. Everlastin here an now.”

“Really? We’re in a perpetual present?”

“Virtually, yep.”

“I’m disagreein, Pal. Carrot Ranch has a history, but more important, Carrot Ranch’s got a future. I want a memorial. Right here, right now.”

“So imagine one inta existence Kid.”

“Ok… Hmmm… It should honor ever’one who dares ta write fer the ranch… readers too… I know! How ‘bout gatherin stories t’gether in one place?!”

“Good idea Kid. Thinkin Shorty calls thet the Collection.” “

Yep, each one monumental.”

“Write on.”

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

Well’s Gone Dry Collection

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

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

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

The Well Has Gone Dry by Rob Smith

When my father retired to Georgia, he had a sixty-eight foot well drilled at the base of the mountain that was his backyard. One dry summer, the well nearly went dry, but there was a spring higher up the hill. Cutting through undergrowth, he laid plastic pipe and brought water to the house. Eventually, he drilled a second well. Now he had two wells and a supply of spring water for flushing the toilets. He never did write an owner’s manual, and in the end, my brother and I had to sort out the pipes and valves and memories.

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Now It’s Your Turn by Hugh W. Roberts

“Every second of his days had been like hell. Even when he had slept, his dreams would not allow the agony to subside. He’d have to wash his bedding every other day because of the hot night sweats, but they had been the least of his problems.”

Turning to the middle-aged man beside her, Tanya continued talking.

“You can all be like him if you want. You can stand up and face head-on the problem you all have in common. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Wells, and Wells’s gone dry. He conquered being an alcoholic. Now it’s your turn.”

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Well’s Gone Dry by Norah Colvin

Having lived independently for years, when they moved in together, they had two of everything and needed nothing more.

At their public celebration, they advised, ‘No gifts, please. Wishing well contributions appreciated.’

With well-paying jobs, they had no immediate need of the well’s contents, which they didn’t inspect but agreed to keep for a ‘rainy day’.

It sat untouched for many years, until it didn’t just rain; it poured.

“Must be all notes,” they said when it didn’t jingle. There was but one note: “Always carry an umbrella in case of rain.”

The well remained the only thing dry.

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A Marriage Tale by Duane L Herrmann

The marriage had not been easy. Each felt they were carrying the load. Neither could be supportive of the other. She held a job that supported the family. He was emotionally supportive of the children and his spouse. Though not a builder, plumber, or electrician, he built a house for the family to live in while also filling role as cook, house-keeper, etc. Though suggesting the move to the country, she insisted on selling the house and moving to town. After that, his emotions were flat. “The well’s gone dry,” is all he could say when asked why.

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Desperation by Michael Fishman

I said, “Let’s give it another try?”

She said, “No dear, ‘cuz the well’s gone dry.”

I said, “But we’ve got lotsa history.”

She said, “Yes dear, and it’s all blistery.”

I hung my head and I started to cry.

She said, “You’ll forget me in the by and by.”

There was one last hug one tender squeeze, and I let out a whimper that sounded like, “Please?”. I begged, “Ya think that some time I might drop by?”

She said, “No dear, ‘cuz the well’s gone dry.”

I gave it a try. Nothing left to say but goodbye.

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Homage to Dr. Clair Stelzenmuller by Sue Spitulnik

James listened as Michael and Ben talked about being in Walter Reed. Michael said, “You ran my well of ideas dry trying to convince you it would be worth learning to walk again.”

Ben nodded. “Those were some dark days. I appreciate you and Clarice not giving up on me.”

“I took some convincing too. That’s why I offered to help.”

James asked. “Who’s Clarice?”

After Michael and Ben explained about their doctor, James said, “I’m hearing the names Clarice, Doc, Chance, and Feisty in the first set of dogs we train.”

Michael laughed. “She’d be good with that.”

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Disappeared 18 by Liz Husebye Hartmann

He looked into the boy’s eyes, mistaking him for his own image from years past. The arch of his brows, wide green eyes, the cleft in his chin – clearly, he was someone else! He snapped out of the decade-plus years of enchantment — a spell he’d brought on himself — and realized he should be somewhere else. “Well’s gone dry,” he whispered. A memory, an Appalachian ballad, nearly toppled him; he had to find a way back home to her. But he also had to be right here, right now.

“Just wait a bit, son. Help’s on the way.”

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Where Has the Water Gone? by Sadje

The tap was silent except for a few drops of water. Frantically she ran outside to check if the water tap with the direct connection had water. That tap was dry too. In frustration, she sat down and shed a few angry tears. When people were told not to waste water by washing their cars, or watering their lawn no one listened. Now the well’s gone dry and children are thirsty for freshwater. Resignedly, she picked up an earthen pot and started for the next village. They had a tube-well and perhaps she’ll get some drinking water from there.

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Endurance by Joanne Fisher

“Well’s gone dry.” Sarika stated. Both her and Kali stared at the dusty ground.

“We’ll have to dig a new well then.” Kali said. She knew if they didn’t find water, then they would have to find it somewhere else, but water was scarce in this parched valley. In fact the whole world seemed dry now.

“If we don’t find water, then we die.” Sarika stated. This was the constant reality all survivors now faced.

“Then the sooner we build a new well the better.” Kali replied trying to sound upbeat. They went to find the others to help.

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Warning Note by Simon

In this cold hearted desert, there was a well of love. It has gone dry, well’s gone dry my dear, it will soon disappear, warrior is reborn. It wasn’t painful, the day she shoved that large knife next to my heart, the way our enemy laughed at me. The moment I pulled out the large sword out of my chest and used it against both of them, and beheaded her and the commander. I am still not satisfied, this desert should wet only with blood. The rage began, the entire kingdom of King the IV, I’m coming for YOU.

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The Source by Tzvi Fievel Schnee

The well’s gone dry, and the cisterns are empty. The land is devoid of its precious nutrients, and the once fertile soil is depleted. How much more so does the earth echo the dwindling inner reservoir of our souls, malnourished on toxic ideas, partial truths, and outright lies. The sources of our well-being are often insubstantial, as ephemeral as the clouds, and inconstant as the rain. If we proceed along the avenues of selfish endeavors to procure for ourselves, what cannot be acquired solely by our own efforts, then, the well of salvation will be hidden from our eyes.

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Well’s Gone Dry by Anita Dawes

I had planned this pilgrimage for a year

A sacred well, 140 mile walk

Could take a week

My father told me about it

To drink from it, brings good luck I need some

The trek hard, my feet blistered

My back broken

The scenery beautiful

So many birds I had never seen

Camping at night, early morning pilgrims

Walking down, their faces grim

I thought little of it, except the walk had been tough

Then a couple told me the well’s gone dry

I continued, disappointed, however

I was still hoping to hear the whisper from the well…

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Wishes by KL Caley

Lena made her wish as she tossed her coin in but there was no splash.

“There’s no splash!”

“What?” her sister, already unimpressed by the detour responded.

“Well’s gone dry.” Lena’s voice wobbled. “Do you think my wish will still come true?”

Her big sister looked into her watery, pleading eyes. “Depends what you wished for I suppose?”

“If I tell you, it won’t come true… but it was something for us both,” Lena said with a smile.

“Well, then I definitely think it will come true.” The girls linked arms and left the well to do its magic.

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Well’s Gone Dry by Ann Edall-Robson

“Is this a sign the well’s gone dry?”

“Why do you ask?” Laying the pencil on the grid-lined pad, she smiled.

“There’s been nothing new sprouting from you in a while.”

“Just because the pages aren’t filed with words doesn’t mean I’m not productive.“

“Looks like the only thing you’re germinating involves expanding the garden next to the horse pasture.”

Leafing through a seed catalogue, she stopped at the Heritage Collection and scribbled more notes on the pad. “You’re wrong, it’s research for a book.”

He winked and said, “Yes, dear. Glad to hear the well’s not dry.”

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Alone by Reena Saxena

Alone

is all-in-one

when I come together

gather different pieces

to make a whole

to make sense of it

I dissect dreams

to see

what one part of my psyche

says to another

and it’s so engrossing…

Alone

is what all others

don’t like

it leaves them out

excludes them from

control rooms

Separates their ego

From my the glory

of my individuality

those who respect me

respect my alone-ness

Lonely is only

when I pine for company

other than my own

It’s a well gone dry

looking for irrigation

Alone is all-in-one

Alone is complete

Alone is bliss

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Fill in the Blank by JulesPaige

useful muse taps sleeps’
dream bin when the well’s gone dry;
intertwines life’s truths

When the days’ passages seem to differ little, when headlines’ constant news is bleak – That’s when some seek escape in sleep. Where are the visions of sugar plums, the unicorns and fae? When the head rests on the pillow and eyelids close one can only pray nightmares stay far away.

Creative muse can you bring forth a well of words to overflow? Help me fill in the blanks with some sense. Some words that bring a difference to the sameness of my days

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At What Expense by Frank James

“You thought the well was dry!” Johnson hollered at his brother, Bruce.

“Yes, it’s full,” Bruce said with sullen face.

Johnson pointed at the churning oil rig where a cornfield once was. Workers flared methane flames into the blue sky. Bulldozers pushed black sludge into pits burying it. Protesters chanted at the gate, “Fossil fuel is a dinosaur.”

Bruce’s wife strolled up, pointing at new shoes. “Thank you for discovering our new wealth.” Bruce shook his head.

Johnson tapped a clipboard, “We need to negotiate selling price.”

Bruce’s face winced, “At what expense?”

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Well’s Gone Dry by D. Avery

in wind-stormed time of drought

nothing shines but rust

silt and sand swirled colors of the silent muse

faded promise wrung out

sunbaked bone and dust

in hard times, hard to trust

to shake fear and doubt

to beseech again and again be refused

one must do as one must

seeding one’s own clouds

with faith of rooting sprouts

breaking through the crust

dream of green catching glistening drops of dew

if muse gasps, one must shout

wake up dreams long hushed

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The Coming of Petrichor by Doug Jacquier

Well’s gone dry and Adam stares at the grey-black clouds that cluster like a bunch of stuck-up girls at a school dance that turn him down every time.

So he flicks on his solar batteries (powered by the daily hell-fire Sun), powers up his Hendrix-like stack of Marshall amps, loads his player with Tchaikovsky’s ‘1812 Overture’, turns the volume up to 11, hits play, picks up the microphone and in synchronicity with the soaring strings, the bells and the cannons, screams “Send ‘er down, Hughie!”

As his tears fall like rain into the dust, his nostrils fill with petrichor.

***

Glossary: ‘Send ‘er down, Hughie’ – Traditional Australian prayer to the heavens to deliver plenty of rain Petrichor – The earthy scent produced when rain falls on dry soil, a term coined by two Australian scientists.

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Welling Up by Geoff Le Pard

Little Tittweaking’s Devil’s Well became famous when a bottle of its water turned into a potent gin one wet Bank holiday. So potent was it that many said a drinker would forever after pass ‘a particularly muscular urine’. To combat the town’s inebriation, the incumbent, Roger Andoubt turned the well into a temperance hotel. New visitors were turned away with a mournful ‘Well’s gone dry’. On his death, Clover, Roger’s widow, had his casket lowered into the well. It came back as a crate of absinthe. Each year, on his death day, Roger’s absinthe was toasted by grateful locals.

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Well’s Gone by Scott Bailey

Old MacDonald had a farm and the well’s gone dry. The sun had driven the water table too deep, a shady spot fifty feet away looked better. He removed the well-head and hooked his team of four huge Clydesdales to the solid steel pulling hooks driven into the rim of the well. On his command the horses leaned hard into their yokes, pulling and snorting, hooves scraping against the dirt. Shoulders and flanks rippling sinew as the chains fought against snapping, slowly the well inched across the yard to the target spot. There, water started filling the well.

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You’re Done by Gary A. Wilson

So, I’ve decided. You’re done hurting me. You’ve eroded my finances, my health, my self-respect. You’ve insulted my family, my friends, and my God. You’ve broken my trust, my body, and my good name. You’re always quick to apologize, but your good intentions quickly fade. Yes, I have already forgiven your last loss of self-control, but you need help I can’t provide. I no longer want you in my life. That well’s gone dry. I filled it in with the rubbish that you left of my life and when I leave, I’m starting a new one, completely — without — you.

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An Ordinary Day by Nancy Brady

It was an ordinary day until it wasn’t. Another mass shooting, in a small Texas town, this time. Twenty-one dead: two teachers trying to protect their students and nineteen young children. Each family, in minutes, losing the future they thought they’d know. A town left to grieve. Hardened news reporters turning away from the camera, returning to say, “I’m sorry.” The country is sorry. Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkland, Dayton’s Oregon District, Las Vegas, and too many others still resonate, reminding of callous, indiscriminate gunfire, more loss of life, more grieving families, and more tears until the well’s gone dry.

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My Well’s Gone Dry by Bill Engleson

My well’s gone dry

And my heart is empty,

I don’t know why I ain’t got plenty

I don’t know why I ain’t got plenty of love…

I ain’t as spry as when I was twenty.

I swore I could fly like my darling Jenny.

Swore I could fly like my darling Jenny.

Fly into the sky… fly in the sky.

You know I’ll try

To find a shiny penny steal or lie to try to find any,

steal or lie to find as many.

Whatever it takes to fill my well,

heaven or hell to fill my well.

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Diggin Inta Pre-Herstory by D. Avery

“All thet pencil tappin tells me yer still drillin, Kid.”

“Looks that way Pal. Well’s gone dry after all. But I ain’t whinin, it’ll come.”

“Thet’s the spirit. Meantime, I’ll tell ya bout a character come through here one time, a water witch a sorts she was…

This was way back when the ranch wasn’t a ranch, was jist a seed rattlin roun young Shorty’s head, could a been mistaken fer stardust, it was so small at thet time. Anyway, this water witch come through an took out her dowzin rods.”

“Lookin fer water?”

“Nope. A well a creativity.”

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“Did that water witch character find creativity, Pal?”

“Ya kiddin, Kid? Them dowzin sticks was dancin a jig all over the ranch.”

“Ya said it weren’t the ranch yet.”

“Shush Kid.

This entire area was a vortex a creativity; the site a the saloon, the comments, the collection. She had Ernie dig a well at the challenge post. Ernie was smart, commenced ta digging whilst wearin a blowup uni-corn floatie roun his middle.”

“What fer?”

“Cuz he knew thet well was gonna gush!

Sure ‘nough, ol’ Ernie come ashootin up outta thet hole he dug like a bottle rocket.”

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“What happened ta Ernie’s unicorn?”

“They say thet uni-corn floatie come ta life thet day, thet it kin yet be found wandrin the place thet come ta be Carrot Ranch. As fer the water witch, she moved on, said she’d left her mark.”

“A watermark?”

“Shush Kid.

She went on her way but assured one an all, past, present an future, thet the creative wells would always be full at this magical place, long as folks kept dippin an sippin. Ever since there’s been a rainbow over the place.”

“A rainbow an a north star!”

“Yep. Shinin on ferever.”

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All’s Well That Ends Well by A. Kid

Once upon a time Pal disappeared, an Kid too, but only ‘cause Kid had ta save Pal. Ever day Kid and the intrepid puglet, Curly, looked fer Pal. Until Curly figgered mebbe Pal had fallen inta the well. Because of that Kid an Curly run ta the well an looked in only ta find the well had run dry. Because of that Pal wasn’t drowned but got knocked on the rocks. Because of that Pal may or may not be sure if this is a true story or not. Finally, Kid an Curly pulled Pal up outta the well. 

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“Kid, I’m happy fer ya thet yer creative well is flowin agin, but thet ain’t a true account at all! Heck, it ain’t even good fiction. D’ya think mebbe ya shoulda changed the names, put in a disclaimer bout co-incidennal similarities?”

“Change the names? Pal, we’re already fictional characters, so… Anyways, reframe yer comments. Cain’t ya say anything positive?”

“Well… dispite the unlikely hero, I do like thet ever’one come out okay. An I like how ya used the story spine like folks’ll use at the Cowsino ever first Friday of the month.”

“Heehee, yep. Jist primin the pump.”

🥕🥕🥕

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

Soldier, Prisoner, & Buttercup

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.

Soldier, Prisoner & Buttercup by Christine Bialczak

Jessie stepped off the bus into the dusty heat. Instantly his lips dried and his throat felt scratchy.  Walking into the station, Jessie looked around. The old guy at the counter looked up.

“Can I help you?”

“Sure, I’m looking for Merle.” The old guy stood up and Jessie noticed he was missing his right arm.  Bounding out behind him a golden lab ran at Jessie.

“Darn dog! Stay!”

Jessie caught the dog in his arms and smiled. “Hey, girl!”

“How do you know my dog?”

“I was her trainer, up at the prison. She must’ve recognized my voice.”

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An Exciting Invitation by Sue Spitulnik

“Tessa, remember Ben, the double amputee I worked with?” Michael asked. “He’s doing great now he’s paired with a yellow lab named Buttercup who was trained in a prison by a guy named James.”

“I didn’t know they released trainers’ names.”

“They don’t. The guys had a chance meeting after James got out when he recognized Buttercup. Ben and friends are building tiny houses for homeless vets in Kansas City and want to start a dog training school. Ben asked James to train more trainers. They want me to come talk about second chances.”

“I’m going too.”

“Excellent idea!”

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Pups for People by Annette Rochelle Aben 

Gail leaned over in her wheelchair and smiled at the furry little family. “Buttercup, you’re such a good mother! Your loving pups will one day mean as much to others as you mean to me!”

Gravel crunched under the weight of truck tires. Loretta was here. Gail couldn’t breathe. It was time to say goodbye. “Well, here they are, Loretta. Five enthusiastic recruits for the program. I’m sure the ladies who will train them will do as wonderful a job as you did with Buttercup!”

“Thank you, Gail. I get more out of this program than words can say!”

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Dog Days v2 by Scott Bailey 

Beautiful in her tight orange jumpsuit, Ramona introduced me to Buster. For the next three days at the prison, the two year old Yellow Lab listened intently as Ramona taught me the commands she’d spent two years teaching Buster in the Puppies and Prisoners program. When the training was over, we said our goodbyes and I headed home with Buster at my side. Probably five years later, there was a knock at my door. So I opened it and there stood Ramona. Busters’ tail nearly fell off from wagging it so hard. We all hugged and laughed out loud.

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When Blindness Isn’t a Disability Frank James

“I never imagined a trainer like you,” John James, Colonel retired said. His dog’s tail wagged as Malik Jones approached.

Jones smirked, “Never thought you had eyeballs.”

“They don’t work,” James laughed. “Thank you for releasing me from blindness.”

“T-bone did,” Jones replied. He looked down.

“Humility,” James said.

“Prison humbles a man. It’s why I train dogs for the blind,” Jones replied.

“Well, it helped you. My Freedom Team Foundation assists veterans like you. It reviewed your case, convincing a judge to give you another trial,” James said.

Jones collapsed, looking up. “This began when greed blinded me.”

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Buttercup by Hugh W. Roberts

“Good to see you back, James.”

“Have I missed much?”

“Nothing, apart from the 100-year war. We’d have lost if it were not for the secret weapon you trained while away.”

“I thought I recognised her.”

“Why did you name it Buttercup?”

“The prisoner I shared a cell with had a pet by the same name. I thought it suited her.”

“As you can see, I lost an arm and leg, but not in the war. I volunteered to be Buttercup’s victim. Now, tell us the secrets you learned of the human race while in one of their prisons.”

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Pay It Forward by Marsh Ingrao

James traveled in a time tunnel as the bus took him away. Two hundred dollars. He’d never held that much money. He smiled his thanks. “$215,” the kiosk at the bus terminal said. James’ hands shook. Hey, Buddy, just get out? How much you short?” “Fifteen,” James said. Parents dead, no way to meet girls in solitary. “Thanks, man, I’ll…” “Pay it forward.” James nodded unsure what to say. The bus pulled into a darkened parking lot of a deserted Iowa gas station. “Would Aunt Sally accept a call from her brother’s bad kid?” James looked for a payphone.

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Yes, Man to a Nomen by JulesPaige

James exited the bus in Paulina, Iowa and was confronted by a man filling his car for gas. Frank stood, apparently on false legs. He was confident and strong, which was more than what James was right now after leaving prison. Frank stood filling his truck, his dog poked his head out. James whispered; “Buttercup?” Who then ran to Jim as he knelt to pet the dog. Frank questioned with his eyes and James explained; I trained her. “You did good!” Frank said, adding; “Want to train more?” Jim’s grin was a positive answer. “I’m James” “Get in, Jimmy!”

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Flutter of Hope by Michael Fishman

James woke to something warm on his cheek. He’d fallen asleep again on the sidewalk outside of Donaldsons’. He opened his eyes, blinked hard. The smiling Lab knocked over the HOMELESS sign on James’ lap in her haste to say hello again. “Buttercup?” “She knows you.” James looked up, saw a tall man with prosthetics where his left arm and leg used to be. “I trained her. I—” “Inmate?” “Was. Sometimes maybe still am. Vet? “Iraq. Buttercup, she saved my life.” James swatted a tear. The man reached down. “Let me give you a hand up, pal. You hungry?”

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Sunny by Colleen M. Chesebro

“Sergeant Jan Mathers? It’s good to meet you.” “Same here.” I reached out with my one good arm and shook his hand. For a newly released inmate, John Tyler held himself confidently. Sunny, my support dog, whined at my side. “It’s okay girl, you remember him, don’t you?” Tyler locked eyes with the golden lab. “After Iraq, I never thought I needed help, but I’d lost more than just an arm. I’m thankful you trained her. She saved my life.” Tyler grinned. “She saved my life, too.” “You start at the pound Monday, Tyler. Don’t be late.” “Yes ma’am.”

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The Measure of a Man’s Best Friend by Chel Owens 

The Greyhound halted. This was where $200 took James. He disembarked, shouldered his prison-issued backpack, and read the station’s name: Kum & Go. “Here to rob it?” James swung to see a man by a pickup; opened his mouth, then shut it. The man had no legs. The truck had a dog. -But not just any dog. “Buttercup!” The yellow lab hurtled out and licked him, desisting at her master’s call. James had trained her in prison, as a service animal for a wounded soldier. James looked up, and both men saw each other -clearly- for the first time.

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More Than a Number by Duane L Herrmann 

James loved dogs. He’d had one as a pet – for a few days – until his dad shot it. He learned not to cry. He learned cruelty at home and was sent to prison for it. In prison, he could have a dog. The dog made him human, teaching love, acceptance, and bonding. The dog respected James as no human ever had. The dog demonstrated respect and obedience. James felt different, but good. The dog was passed on to help others who could not help themselves. James trained another. Eventually, James was released, more whole than ever before.

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Playing Ball by Geoff LePard

When Ron Precarious left the Army, having lost his left testicle in an accidental conflagration caused by some malfunctioning self-immolating underwear that were part of his brother Tom’s initiation ceremony as Little Tittweaking’s self-appointed Demonic Representative, he was happy to see Tom jailed. Tom waited by the prison gates. Ron pointed at the terrier with two additional heads attached to its neck. ‘Well? How’s he going to fix this? Tom unclipped the dog’s lead. ‘Find Uncle Ron’s ball, Cerberus!’ In a puff of smoke Cerberus disappeared. ‘You sure you can trust him?’ ‘Better the devil you know…’

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Saying Bye to Buttercup by KL Caley

He buried his face into the soft golden fur and let out one slow sob, hoping against hope the other prisoners wouldn’t hear. Another excuse for a beating was the last thing he needed. He looked into buttercup’s large brown eyes and felt his heart tear. He had always known he would only have her a short while, that was the point of the Puppies Behind Bars program, yet saying goodbye was harder than he had realised it would be. He finally had someone in his life that understood what it was to give unconditional love. He’d miss her.

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Rescue Dog by Anne Goodwin 

Everything she loved was taken from her. So, when the cell door closed, she resolved never to love again. She wouldn’t love the puppies she trained as support dogs for disabled veterans. Hell, she only did that job to expedite her release. Once out, she refused to love the freedom. Perhaps that’s why she got in the car with the mean-eyed man. And his golden retriever that smelled like one of hers. She refused to care when he pulled a knife and unzipped his fly. But when he grabbed her clothing, the dog bit his arm and she ran.

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Far From Prison by Gary A. Wilson

“Buttercup?” The soldier, veteran and just-released felon met the dog’s eyes. “How are you here?” Expecting a small town far from prison, the bus had left him at the midnight neon lights of this dusty gas station surrounded by corn fields. Apparently – this is the town. A pickup had pulled in. Buttercup jumped out on seeing him. He knelt, “Come here girl – there.” He’d trained her for the Dogs for Veterans project in prison. Her owner, with prosthetic legs and a captain’s insignia jacket approached. He instinctively stood and saluted. “At ease. Soldier—how do you know my dog?”

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Dog Days by Scott Bailey

Skinny, inked, mid-forties and incarcerated, Ramon introduced me to Buster. For the next three days at the prison the two year old Yellow Lab listened intently as Ramon taught me the commands he’d spent two years teaching Buster in the Puppies and Prisoners program. So impressed was I with Ramon, I told him to write me next year when he gets out, I can help him with a job. Six months later the warden calls me, says Ramon died. Prison gang payback for something or other. I didn’t tell Buster about Ramon dying, but I think he knew.

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Joint Custody Bill Engleson

“He’s coming, buddy. Your old friend. Love it! Yeah, he’s a good boy. That got your tail wagging. Here let me really give that old chewie a toss.” Bailey gets his balance in check and wings it high over the swings. Little Girl is pumping hard. I scoot around her just avoiding her return descent. I remember him. Within that space, I became a helper. We were as one, Jimmy and I, until I was sent here. Got the chewie. And what’s that? It’s him. Coming ‘round the side of the house. No high walls. All my people together.

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Peeling the Labels by Doug Jacquier

“I’m sorry about you being a cripple for your country, Greg,” Harley said to the veteran.

“We don’t say that anymore, Harley, we say ‘person with a disability’. But thanks and I’m sorry about you having been a prisoner.”

“We don’t say ‘prisoner’ anymore. We say ‘person who is incarcerated’ or, in my case, ‘was’.”

“Anyway, about that dog you trained for me. It’s the thought that counts and I appreciate it and we get along really well, but all he seems to want to do is escape.”

“Yeah, I did that deliberately, so you could follow his lead.”

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As Far as a Prisoner Can Go by Nancy Brady

The invasion began with bombs and gunfire. Oksana and her husband Andriy were hiding out. Andriy was obligated to serve, but he insisted she must go. Escaping the prison of a bomb shelter, Oksana made the last train out of Kyiv, knowing she was leaving behind Andriy to fight, perhaps die. The train only went so far; she would need to walk miles toward a new world. Along the way, Oksana found a young child crying and clinging to his dead parents. Oksana picked up the boy, calling him Matviy, making him her own as they continued toward safety.

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Released by D. Avery 

“Know whut I’m thinkin Pal?”

“Nope, but I gotta feelin yer gonna tell me.”

“Thinkin I’d just a-soon we was still somewheres else this week. I got nuthin.”

“Jeez, Kid. Already back whining bout the prompts?”

“Mebbe we was imprisoned, Pal.”

“Don’t think so Kid.”

“Yeah, jailed, but training puglets ta hep vets.”

“Vetternarians?”

“No, veterans. Service hogs fer those who served.”

“Servin up bacon?”

“That ain’t funny, Pal. Think a Curly.”

“Thinkin mebbe ya should oughta disappear agin, lay low till there’s a easier challenge.”

“Think I will. Come on, Curly. See ya later Pal.”

“Phew! I’m free!”

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Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection! This special collection is based on a Story Chat short story, feedback from readers, and the extended imaginations of writers at Carrot Ranch.

Mom Selfies 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.

My Mom Selfie by Gypsie-Ami Offenbacher-Ferris

Looking into the mirror, I see my mom looking back at me. The woman in the mirror has the same wrinkles in nearly the same places. Though her eyes were black as coal and mine are a greenish-amber; they are the same shape and size and both having a distant, distracted look.

The shape of our lips and even the color was identical. It’s the outside wrinkles of our mouths that sets us apart. Hers from being a chain smoker, addicted to those Pall Mall cigarettes. Mine from laughter and love.

Too bad I got my dad’s nose!

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Taking on the Best by Sue Spitulnik

Tessa sat in the warm sunshine on their deck, hand sewing the binding on her latest quilt. She reminisced about the good times in her teens when she and her mother enjoyed scratch cooking and sewing together. Then she wondered why her mother was so often critical of her these days. Her thoughts wandered to the time she spent with Michael’s mother and how she was much more patient, positive, generous, and willing to help whenever needed. The light bulb came on. Tessa felt she had adopted the best attributes of both women, and her mother might be jealous.

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Mom by Saifun Hassam

Mom’s first wife was a mermaid. Her farewell note talked about impossible love.
My dad was mom’s second wife. Mom’s genes were mostly human. The rest were Venusian genes. I inherited my azure hair and sea-green eyes from my Venusian great-great-grandmother.

I was seven when we went to Venus. It was her first visit ever. She turned her love for adventure into a tourist business. I missed Earth for a while. At mom’s insistence, I wrote to dad but he never replied.

I took over our growing tourist business when Mom fell ill. Maybe I’ll visit Earth one day.

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Phoebe-1915 by Bill Engleson

The dust is blowing in.
It clings to the curtains, to everything like a sickness.
The summer wind is swirling so.
Sweet children, come to me. Bring me my babe.
I need to suckle him.
I need him close.
I need you all so very close.
Oh, Thomas, I have born you five. We have suffered so with the loss of the twin at birth. And you my love, the heartache of your first lost love wears you away.
And now, I am on the verge of leaving.
What is the date…the last day of June?
I am done.

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When Dreams Aren’t Enough by Miss Judy

When 13-year old Isabel is betrothed to 34-year old Frederick, she dreams of an idyllic love affair.
Frederick, a wealthy English landowner, sees a prize possession; he will be richly rewarded.
Conceiving immediately Isabel endures a difficult pregnancy before giving birth to a girl. Disappointed, Frederick proclaims, “We will have another.”
Still deeply depressed, Isabel conceives quickly. After another difficult pregnancy and exhausting labor, a son is stillborn.
Frederick blames Isabel for killing his son. With a husband who has only contempt and daughter she cannot love, Isabel’s dreams die. Only pain and disappointment fill this mother’s loveless heart.

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Thanks Bad Mom by Simon

She was the light, the light of happiness, the light that gave everything I wanted, in simple words I saw heaven.

When there was light, there is dark too, it had over powered the light, at certain point the bright days became just a memory. The darker days gave me scars of mental health, the days I wished I died and regret having you, only I know how much I wanted to grow up and escape from you. Despite of all the flaws you are still my Mom, I won’t forgive you, but thank you for making me stronger.

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Mother Without a Clue by Duane L Herrmann

What to do? What to do? She didn’t know what to do. Her mother had no mother, at least after age eight, so she had only hints of what to do, the rest was overwhelming. What do to? She was trapped with no way out. In her bewilderment and frustration, she screamed; at her husband, at her babies and her children as they grew. Life for them was hell. She didn’t know what to do. Finally, at the very end, she was able to show to her oldest child that she did care. It turned his life upside down.

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Mom’s Selfie by Scott Bailey

I carefully return her photograph to my cigar box of treasures. She’s young and pretty in the faded black and white picture and it’s the only image I have of her.

“The Triangle Factory fire,” murmured voices whispered whenever I was around. I was too young to remember her and that picture is all I have anchoring me to some time and someone. Without that, would I even exist?

Rebellious in orphanages and ill suited for adoption, I ran away, making the train tracks my home. My Mom’s image, forever burned in my mind, can never leave me again.

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Selfless Selfie? (Spot On?) by JulesPaige

Motherland
Created image,
Barren scene
Dark forest
After devastating flames
Seeds grow by starlight

Gertie held tightly to the sobbing fragile child. A seed not yet ready to bloom unattended. Jane’s heart was scared first by growing up in an orphanage, then placed into servitude. While Gertie had not borne any of her own children she had raised several daughters. Each learning much from the other. Gertie would give of herself again, her compassion, her knowledge and do whatever she could to help Jane become an independent woman of means. That was the task all mothers had wasn’t it?

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Modern Motherhood by Reena Saxena

The meeting starts at 9.30 am. I’m late.

The kids have to manage with takeaways. They love it, but I’m not sure if it is the right thing for healthy growth.

I stop in my tracks by the sarcastic look in my boss’s eyes “You’re not the only mother out here. We need to run a business.”

Life goes on. The kids are doing fine wherever they are.

I’ve developed lifestyle diseases, and need to move to an assisted home. All the stress has taken its toll.

And my children think I never had enough time for them.

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Portrait of a Mom by Sadje

I am a mom of three and a grandmother to three. I’m not a perfect mother, no one is. But I do try. I often make mistakes and forget things that I ought to remember but I do try.

I gave up my career so that I could be a full-time mom. I did what all mothers do to make sure that the children are well looked after.

My children love me but they aren’t very demonstrative. That’s why when they do something like this I am so pleased.

A customized poem and hand-painted dupatta to show her love.

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Disappeared 14 by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Bethany grabbed her purse, the picture of her four children, and the small box of confetti containing her shredded, many-times rejected work.

Sticking her head in her boss’ office, she recoiled at the stink of gin, but chirped, “Today’s my last day! Here’s your grant proposal!”

She winked as she dumped its contents into the air with a wide sweep of her arm, dropped the box, and jogged out of the building. Car keys jingling, she thought, “Pick up ice-cream? No, it’ll be a family picnic on that abandoned mansion’s grounds!”

New job, new life. She’d missed her kids!

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Look in Awe and Wonder by Scott Rhodie

She’s always available and ready to help.

Bright, cheerful, and without complaint, she’s ready from early until long after bed.

The light of life is a familiar glow and waiting, as she heals my tired body and attempts to stop rivers of tears.

She protects, clothes, feeds and shelters, but still asks for little in return.

Not everyone feels the same as they take and take, forever taking. She must feel hurt and alone in this universe of ours.

Let’s come together for her, as she wraps her arms around one and all.

Our glorious and only Mother Earth.

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Mothering by Norah Colvin

She paused in the shopping mall, one arm cradling her week-old infant, the other hand her breast as she gently positioned it enabling the infant to suckle. So engrossed was she in her newborn that the world of passing shoppers and nearby café chatter was non-existent. Her face radiated love, peace and joy, the child’s adoration, contentment and bliss. Serenity. I smiled as I passed, captivated in the moment, drawn into the circle of life and love, both envying and admiring her confidence and lack of inhibition in a situation won for her by generations of mothers before her.

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A Matter of Life by Hugh W. Roberts

It was a matter of life or death. But if only she had known that she wasn’t the only one racing toward her child as he sunk toward the bottom of the ocean floor.

***

As the creature snatched at the sinking, lifeless object, it used its other tentacle to grab the prey that pursued it and squeezed the life out of it. Now it could feed the offspring it had given birth to, which would otherwise have died on this strange, watery planet.

A mother had to do everything in her power to ensure the survival of her children.

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Build A Mum by Geoff Le Pard

Tobias Frankenstein, distant relative of Dickie Frankenstein, novelty pretzel designer, lacked one thing: a mother. He set about creating the perfect parent. After months of testing and tubing, he fed the Little Tittweaking Electric Corporation meter with one hundred pound coins and pulled the switch, holding his breath. Would she have those characteristics he associated with the perfect mother? He started, opening his eyes.
‘Toby Frankenstein, if I’ve told you once…’ the chastisement continued uninterrupted and uninterruptible for an hour. When finally Toby was tucked in bed, his teeth cleaned, he smiled: he’d got exactly what he wished for.

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For This Also, Thanks Mom by Gary A. Wilson Stories

Shirley, the daughter of an unfavored marriage between her Danish mother and Italian father, met, loved, and married a gentle man.

With her mom shunned by her own family, Shirley moved on.

She wanted college, but life’s immediacies drove elsewhere. Instead, she joined the biggest department store in town and soon rose to the second most senior role of assistant manager.

Everyone knew and loved her as friendly, hard-working, and driven to help others. Despite diseases and crises, her family thrived.

Shirley’s children knew almost nothing of their grandmother’s disfavored marriage.

Unnourished, this root of racism withered and died.

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Ethnicity–Does It Matter? by Nancy Brady

Mom always said that her father never said where they came from except to say they were hilligans. When I asked what that meant, she said she didn’t know.

Not knowing or questioning her father didn’t seem to bother her. Mom accepted his explanation and considered the matter closed. Not me, though, I wondered.

She knew her grandparents surnames and from those, I can only surmise that they were Scottish.Could they have on the wrong side at the Battle of Culloden and been forced to emigrate? Could they have been Highlanders kicked off their lands? I’ll never know.

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Her Life by Ann Edall-Robson

Memories spin in her head like an old news reel. A young woman, waiting for the cue to board the Aquitania. Leaving all she knew, to follow her soldier husband to a foreign land across the Atlantic. Her Gran seeing her off. The cabin, her new home, wind blowing through cracks. Wood stove, frozen water buckets, and learning to cook. A mother-in-law who never thought she was good enough. The bairns lost. The two who lived. The girl now has daughters of her own. Five generations of women blazing their trail with grit, determination, laughter and tears.

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My Image of Mom by Colleen M. Chesebro

At night, in between dreams, I think of you often. What did you look like compared to the few black and white photos of a Russian dark-haired beauty I have tucked in my photo album?

My older sister once told me you had eyes the color of cornflowers. My older brother said you were always kind. I wish I had known you or had memories of you as “my” mother.

Yet, when I close my eyes, I imagine you holding me in your arms. I sense your love. You are the mother I’d always dreamed of. You’re inside me.

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Magic Momma by Kerry E.B. Black

As a pre-teen, I curled into myself, buried my hurts and withdrew from society, but my mother never gave up on me. She interpreted my silence and saw through sullen acts. She read to me from her experiences and invented activities to draw me out of my shell of solitude.

With a young Solomon’s insight, she imparted wisdom in gentle parables. Her touch atop my head soothed. Her embrace protected. With patience she forged armor to insulate oversensitive me. She weaved magic as a cloak and studded it with stars.

Through her, I lived. Because of her, I thrive.

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The Dance Tree by Anne Goodwin

Follow me to the forest if you want to meet the real me, the me neither my husband nor his mother can bear to see. We’ll pass the bees that I love almost as much as I love my children. When I hum a lullaby, the bees don’t sting.

Come, we’ll leave the path and push through brambles. You must not mind if they scratch. There, in the clearing, the tree leafed with ribbons. My church, my shrine, my loneliness, my refuge, my grief, my hideaway. My memorial: a coloured strip of cloth blooming there for every lost child.

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Mudder Mucky Kid by D. Avery

“Good ta have ya back Pal.”
“Thanks. Kid too?”
“Course! Where’s Kid at, anyways?”
“There. A ranch hand and swine reunion is only a motion away.”
“Oh, yeah, a-huggin Curly.”
“Yep. Now feedin thet hog her fav’rite dish, curried carrots an cornbread.”
“Lucky pig.”
“Curly?”
“Yep. Now look, Kid’s bathin Curly an now’s rubbin sunscreen all over her. How thoughtful. An whut’s that, a new collar?”
“Necklace. Pearls fer swine. Uh-oh. Kid’s hand’s got stuck in thet necklace with Curly took off runnin through the barns.”
“Them barns ain’t been shoveled since y’all disappeared.”
“Shift! What a mudder!”

🥕🥕🥕

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

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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.

🥕🥕🥕

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

🥕🥕🥕

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.”

🥕🥕🥕

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.”

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