Landscapes or Seascapes – Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge

This week at Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge the theme is: Landscapes or Seascapes. Here are my photos for the challenge.

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Look here for more photos answering the challenge: http://ceenphotography.com/2014/12/16/cees-fun-foto-challenge-landscapes-or-seascapes/

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False Advertising – Friday Fictioneers

Photo by: Douglas M. MacIlroy

False Advertising

Edwina Spider hummed a lullaby as she worked.

“Is the silk suit really necessary?” said Mr. Roach.

“Yes, very,” said Edwina.

“By the way, it’s pinching at the crotch.”

“Oh! Very sorry, sir.” Edwina made an adjustment. “Better?”

Mr. Roach groaned. “Yes, thank you. So what happens later?”

“Well. Later, you’ll feel a slight jab, but it’s nothing to worry about.”

“And then?”

“In a few hours you’ll definitely notice a difference.”

“I see. I found your site on the inter-web, you know.”

“Good to hear that,” grinned Edwina.

Mr. Roach sighed. “I dearly hope Edwina’s Weight Loss Program works for me.”
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Each week, the Friday Fictioneers are caught and flippantly fleeced like frenetically fouled French fruit flies in the webs of our own imagination. Rochelle Wisoff-Fields provides a photo prompt and we start writing. Often photos are provided by fellow writers. This week, Douglas MacIlroy offered a macro pic. Nice one, Doug! Look here for more stories based upon the photo above: http://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/2014/12/17/19-december-2014/

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Meal Time – Microstories #192

Source: Wikimedia Commons

He dragged it onto the beach. “Look Honey!”

“What is it?” she asked.

“A cruise ship. I found it near Honolulu. Look at all the Humans screaming.”

“So cute!”

Godzilla’s wife turned to her brood of 127 hatchlings. “Children! Papa brought home breakfast!”
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Weekly Photo Challenge: Twinkle

This week’s photo challenge is: Twinkle. I usually try to be creative as possible for these prompts, but I seem to be distracted. I’m going with the obvious this time around. Here are some photos from last year’s Christmas complete with twinkles.

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Chessmate – Mondays Finish The Story

Photo by: Barbara W. Beacham

Chessmate

They say that life is a game of chess. No one knew this better than young Terrance Morgan. At eight years old, he saw chess pieces in a far different way than anyone else. This difference came to a head during a family cruise to Belize. The ship had a giant chess set. Its king stood tall as Terrance. He moved a bishop. “Checkmate!” he cheered.

The vein at Joseph Gruden’s temple quivered madly. His teeth ground and his knuckles popped in his fists. The seven-time world champion growled menacingly at Terrance, “How are you doing this?”

“Instincts,” shrugged Terrance.

Gruden had never been beaten by anyone more than twice. Terrance had beat him twelve times! He pointed a quivering finger at Terrance. “Again!”

Gruden moved his pieces into place while Terrance moved his king. A face appeared as if by magic in the chess piece. It said, “Think he’s guessed yet that I’m helping?”

“Not a chance,” grinned Terrance.
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Each Monday it’s time to finish the story. This week, the story must begin with, “They say that life is a game of chess.” The visual prompt is Barb’s picture of a huge chess set above. Look here for more stories answering the prompts: http://mondaysfinishthestory.wordpress.com/2014/12/15/mondays-finish-the-story-december-15th-2014/

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The Tonic – Grammar Ghoul Press

The Tonic

Morris walked up the ancient stone steps, wondering if he could pull it off. Roy Robles was perhaps the greatest secret agent that ever lived, but all that action and danger had come at a cost. Some said he was simply tired. Most thought the years of continuous stress finally broke the man. Whatever the reason, the most dangerous man in the world had spent the last ten years in this Lithuanian monastery living a simple, pious life. Entrusted with the world’s most secret artifacts, he’d become known as The Archivist.

Clouds hung above the 600-year old building like a steely blanket when Morris grasped the gargoyle knocker. He pounded on the door and it opened nearly instantly. The monks there were nothing if not vigilant. A young monk in traditional brown robes led Morris through the stark interior without a word. It was cold inside even though Morris could see fires burning in several hearths. Visually, the plain stone hallways and staircases lacked life, but a cheery odor of baking bread and freshly plucked vegetables added a hominess to it.

Morris tried to imagine why this life of the pious, of making everything from scratch, could attract a man like Robles. The spy had enjoyed all the finest of Europe: the cars, the food, the women. Why throw it away? The young monk ushered Morris into the warmest chamber he’d seen yet. A fire burned in a massive hearth. Morning light streamed from the window like a sign from God.

On a carpet stood a simple pedestal. A figure in heavy and hooded brown robes stood before it, his hand touching an ancient book upon the pedestal. Morris knew that hand at once. It was large and scarred from many battles. A hand that could kill 116 ways. “You seek The Archivist and the Tonic.” he said.

As the young monk left the room, Morris said, “Seriously? You’re really going to play this role out?”

Robles raised his hand to the light from the window. “It is the role God has given me.”

“Oh c’mon. It’s me, Morris Tunney! You trained me in St. Petersburg. Have you forgotten the food we had in Istanbul? The adventure in Caracas?”

Robles turned his head slowly. The lines of his face were deeper. His hair going grey. “A past that ultimately led to God.”

Morris rolled his eyes. “You seriously drank the punch haven’t you? You didn’t need to play monk, just guard the artifacts.”

Robles pointed to the colorful book before him. “Do you know what this is? It is a Book of Hours. It guides the pious in their prayers. It is the only tonic that refreshes my soul.” He pointed to a colorful page. “This miniature was created by The Rustic Painter, his hand guided by God. This is my life now. That life you speak of is but a bitter memory.”

It was clear to Morris that Robles hadn’t lost his nerve. He’d lost his mind. He rolled his eyes. “Whatever. Anyway, I’m here for the Tonic.”

Robles waved his hand to a table. A vial of purplish liquid rested upon it. “The Tonic of Alexander. Said to cure all mental illness.”

“We’ll need it,” said Robles snatching the vial. “Putin had clearly lost his mind. After grabbing Crimea and much of the Ukraine, he’s massing troops on the borders with Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania. NATO troops are landing to defend them. There’s going to be war in the Baltics and it’s going to be nasty. This Tonic may stop the war before it starts.”

“If it is the will of God.”

One more chance to bring him back.

Morris said, “We could use your help, you know. We need to infiltrate Putin’s Palace in Praskoveevka.”

“My place is here.”

Morris held out a bottle of Previet Vodka, Robles’ favorite. ” I brought along a case of Vodka.”

“I hope you enjoy it.”

“Marika Morovka will be there. She’s still stunning, and she misses you.”

“I hope she is safe.”

“It’s going to be dangerous.”

“Dangerous?” Robles suddenly shrugged of his robes, revealing a black tactical suit beneath. Throwing knives and grenades glimmered. “Why didn’t you say so?” He snatched the bottle of vodka from Morris and drank deep. “Gawd, I missed that!”

“Seriously? After all that malarkey?” complained Morris.

“I was waiting for you to ask nicely.” He grabbed Morris’ arm. “I’m bored to death. The Tonic I need is action, and this mission fits the bill!”
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Author’s Notes:
Putin’s Palace: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Putin%27s_Palace
Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tr%C3%A8s_Riches_Heures_du_Duc_de_Berry#Attribution_of_the_calendar_miniatures
Book of Hours: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_hours

This week at the Grammar Ghoul Press, the word prompt is: Tonic. Art by Paul Limbourg, or the “Rustic painter” is the media prompt. Look here for more stories based upon the prompts! http://www.grammarghoulpress.com/gg-writing-challenge-11-open/

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Side Effects – Sunday Photo Fiction

Photo by: Alistair Forbes. A view from Dover Castle.

Side Effects

Its operator liked to call it, “Bennie.” For all intents and purposes the operator was Bennie when controlling it. Bennie was a HEFT (Human to Equipment Feedback Transport) Drone. It looked and flew exactly like a dragonfly, easily fitting in the palm of your hand. What made it more unique was the HEFT system that created a complete sensory link between the operator and drone. In the mind of the operator, he was the drone. The system gave operators unparalleled control over the tiny machines, but there were side effects.

Bennie veered hard to dodge the snapping jaws of a terrier. The dog was an experienced bug-killer and still managed to clip a portion of Bennie’s port wing. The sudden loss of control caught Bennie by surprise and he landed in a shepherd’s pie purchased from a nearby food cart. The owner of the pie, a factory worker from the London docks, felt no compassion for the bug entrapped in sticky mashed potatoes. He angrily flicked Bennie out with powerful fingers.

His side partially collapsed, Bennie landed in the path of a baby carriage. He flitted out of the way, narrowly avoiding being crushed. As he flew above the carriage, a gobbet of hot potatoes blinding his right eye, he failed to see the swatting hand of the baby’s overprotective mother. Bennie sailed in front of a boy with a badminton racquet. The boy grinned evilly, and a mad chase was on.

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This is going to be SO easy, thought Corporal Gleason as he followed Lieutenant Scarborough through the Drone Command Center. He joined the military as his father demanded, but Gleason never believed it was sane to willingly put one’s life in danger. So he joined the Drone Observer Corps where he could be safely ensconced in air-conditioned rooms mere blocks away from the nearest pub.

“The rumors about feedback links creating physical injuries are overblown,” explained Scarborough. “Oh, you might find a bruise here and there, but it’s nothing, really.”

A door to a command module opened and two techs led a controller out, holding him up. Blood streamed from his nose and his right eye was bloodshot. His swelling hand was cocked at a strange angle and his left leg dragged, completely limp. “The child!” he moaned. “She just kept coming!”

Gleason stared at the man in horror.

“This is good work we do,” said Scarborough, ignoring the scene. “We examine the tourist crowds for potential terrorist attackers. We keep the people safe, and of course, YOU are completely safe.”

Doubts began to fill Gleason’s mind. The Lieutenant seemed like a used car salesman selling useless crap. Another passing controller, with the thousand-yard stare of military men who’d seen too many horrors, stopped Gleason. “Newbie?” he asked.

“Uh, yes. First day,” said Gleason.

Bennie adjusted his sling and winced when the purplish bruise on his ribs stabbed with pain once more. Just breathing was difficult. “Where are they stationing you?”

“Dover Castle, sir. Just watching over the tourists.”

“My God, man.” Bennie clapped a sympathetic hand on his shoulder. A tear slipped down his remaining good eye. “I’m sorry.”

Shaking from the encounter, Gleason stopped Scarborough’s rambling spiel. “Excuse me, sir,” stammered Gleason. “I think I want a transfer. Perhaps it’s safer in the infantry!”
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Author’s notes:

This story was inspired by the controversy over drone controllers receiving military medals. Since controllers never face mortal danger, many are opposed to the idea. This got me wondering: what if that changed? http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/jim-deegan/index.ssf/2013/02/new_medal_for_drone_combatants.html

Each Sunday, Alistair Forbes places his own photos into the crucible of combat…with the imagination. From these encounters are born flash fiction stories based upon the photos. This is my story. Look for more here: http://sundayphotofictioner.wordpress.com/2014/12/14/sunday-photo-fiction-december-14th-2014/

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