Spiders!

In these days of October, it’s time for things that go bump, things in the shadows, and things that slither and crawl. Shall we examine the things who’s very shape elicits revulsion and a sense of dread. We recoil from them instinctively. So let us celebrate them in this time of horror. Let’s have a closer look at…Spiders.

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Daikaiju – Sunday Photo Fiction

Written for Sunday Photo Fiction. A story, about a sighting that terrifies some people in Japan, begins after the photo.

Genre: Speculative Fiction/Humor

Photo by: Alastair Forbes

Daikaiju

It was nearly 11:00AM at the boardwalk in Tokyo Harbor. Joggers, food vendors, and sightseers flowed in the sidewalks and picnic areas of Odaiba. Ichi the security guard sat on a bench, perfectly placed to keep an eye out. He could easily see anyone who approached, and he was fast asleep.

Hitomi and her boyfriend Shiro were enjoying a day together. They’d just begin dating and they enjoyed constant laughs and smiles together. As they walked down the sidewalk snacking on barbequed squid on a stick, Riko noticed a pay-per-view telescope. They walked straight past the sleeping guard. Loading the telescope with coins, Hitomi said, “Show me your favorite place.”

Shiro paused for second then aimed the telescope straight at Hitomi. She blushed and squirmed. “Show me another,” she smiled.

Shiro grinned back and goosebumps arose on his skin when Hitomi placed a delicate hand on his shoulder. He looked through the telescope and panned across Tokyo Bay, scanning for the buildings above his favorite electronics store. His view moved across the waters until he saw something strange.

At first, the waters swelled. He stopped his movement, squinting to see better. Something rose slowly, glistening in the morning sun. First one, then two more enormous tentacles rose out of the water. If the passing cargo ship was was any measure, the green and gold mottled arms stretched a hundred feet across the waves. They crashed through the water, advancing closer. Shiro couldn’t help a strangled shout.

“What is it, Shiro?” said Hitomi.

“A creature!” shouted Shiro, pointing across the water. He pulled her to the telescope. “Look! Look!”

Hitomi looked through the telescope and immediately let out a piercing scream. “It’s coming, Shiro! It’s coming closer!”

Joggers and sightseers, hearing the screams, ran to them to see what was going on. “It’s a monster,” shouted Shiro to the arrivals. He implored them to look through the telescope. One by one, the onlookers peered through. Each one stepped away, mouths agape. Some began chattering, others began screaming. The crowd grew larger. Some who couldn’t get close enough to use the telescope scanned the waters, looking for the beast. “I don’t see anything,” said an incredulous onlooker.

Then the first splashes erupted from the water. The crowd broke and ran, screaming, “Daikaiju! Monster!”

Just as the last of the crowd streamed by, the insomniac Ichi woke up. Seeing no one, he sighed. His job was safe.

Kenji and Masaru walked towards the telescope from their maintenance van. Kenji pointed to the remnants of the screaming crowd. “Aren’t they running the wrong way?” he said. “You’d think they would be running toward the water to see the Bay’s pilot whales.”

Masaru pointed to a man running with barbequed squid on a stick. “I’ll bet old man Ando is offering two for one.”

Kenji nodded knowingly. “Right. That causes a stampede every time.”

Neither of them noticed the splashes in the water.

Masaru sent Kenji on ahead to the telescope while he stopped beside Ichi the security guard. “Anyone use the telescope?”

“No sir! I’ve been watching very carefully.”

“Excellent. It would be bad if anyone saw the anomaly.”

He joined Kenji as the younger technician began removing the telescope’s housing. “How’s it going?”

“No problem,” said Kenji. “But I still don’t understand how a baby octopus got inside this telescope!”
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Author’s Notes:
Daikaiju (Monster): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaiju
Odaiba (Man-made island in Tokyo Harbor): http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3008.html

Each week, photographer Alastair Forbes presents a photo as a writing prompt for flash fiction. This is my answer to the photo prompt above. Look here to see more stories drawn from the photo: http://sundayphotofictioner.wordpress.com/2014/10/19/sunday-photo-fiction-october-19th-2014/

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Harrow Trees – Grammar Ghoul Press

Harrow Trees

“Try to relax, Mr. Jones,” said Pete, looking sympathetically at the haggard man, as the shadows of cell bars reached across him like the branches of trees. “I’m going to get you out of here in a couple days.”

Jamieson looked up, ragged hair in his eyes. Pete guessed Jamieson had lived in his truck for months. His jeans and flannel shirt were unusually dirty with fresh rips in the fabric. Strange for a man who months ago ran a successful ranch. Jamieson shook his head. “I won’t live that long.”

“Why? Who are you afraid of?”

“It ain’t who. It’s what.”

Pete wondered if Deputy Bolton was right about Jamieson’s sanity. Pete decided to humor him. “Okay. What is after you?”

“You’ll never believe it.”

“Try me.”

Jamieson’s face was a grimace of subdued terror. “The Harrow Trees.”

Pete hid his wince and scribbled a note. “What are Harrow Trees?”

“Trees that harrow whoever sees them…to death. I had to drive at night to keep ahead of ‘em. It’s during the day when they move the fastest. They’re always ahead of me, never behind. I drove 140 down the road once. Damn near killed myself. I still saw ‘em beside the highway, up ahead and reaching for me. Branches like giant hands reaching out with thorns the size of your forearm. Scraped up my truck somethin’ fierce.”

“Hold on a sec. These trees move?”

“Only when you ain’t lookin’. You can’t stare at them forever. Eventually you have to blink, and when you’re eye opens again, you realize they ain’t in the same place anymore.”

Deputy Bolton was right, Pete realized. Jones needed more than a public defender. He needed a psychiatrist. Pete decided to keep him talking and take extensive notes. The deeper the story got, the quicker he could get the man help. “How can you tell if a tree is a Harrow Tree? Driving down the road, there’s always a tree ahead of you somewhere.”

“Harrow Trees always have twin trunks. They look like two grew together and merged into one. It’s their legs, get it? When they’re chasing you they always look like they just took a step, leaning forward like they’re running hard. But while you’re looking at them they’re perfectly still, like any other tree. I thought I lost them when I crossed the Arkansas River. They can’t cross water or concrete, see? They found a way anyhow.”

“How did they do it?

“They got these seeds that blow in the wind. When the seed blows across a river, it’ll grow into a full-sized tree overnight, but only one seed in a thousand is another Harrow Tree. Don’t matter. They’re always releasing seeds. Tens of thousands every night. Wherever they grow, new forests grow too. All those seeds mean the odds work in their favor. There’s always a new Harrow Tree growing up to chase me some more. Crossing rivers and staying on concrete won’t stop ‘em, but at least it slows them down. I had to sleep in my truck for months in concrete parking lots just to stay alive.”

Pete saw an opportunity. “Well then, you can relax.” He gestured around the jail cell. “Nothing but concrete here!”

Jamieson looked at him like he was stupid. He pointed outside the window. “There’s dirt just outside. They’ll grow up from that then reach in here and kill me, get it?”

So much for that. “Why are they chasing you anyway?”

“I figured out that one was moving. I reacted like it was more than just a tree and then they knew about me. They been trying to kill me ever since. They’ll do anything to stay a secret. Now that you know. Watch yourself. Don’t react like you know what they are.”

Pete left later on that night. When he returned the next morning, psychiatrist in tow, he was already too late. Jamieson was dead.

“Damnedest thing I ever saw,” said the coroner. “Never saw so much bark jammed into a human body before. Where’d the wood come from?”

As Pete left the jailhouse, he noticed something; a tree with two trunks merging into one. For a moment, he thought he saw a face, twisted in fury in the furrows of the rough bark. He couldn’t help it when his jaw fell open.

He squeezed his eyes shut to shake off the vision. When he opened them again, the tree had moved closer.
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Written for Grammar Ghoul Press. Each week, the challenge is to write up to 750 words of flash fiction from an image and a word prompt. This week’s word is “Harrow” and and the image prompt is the story’s splash image. Look here for more stories based upon the prompts: http://www.grammarghoulpress.com/gg-writing-challenge-3/

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Jumper – YeahWrite Microstories #183

Courtesy of: MilitaryTimes.com

“Uh yeah,” said Private Jensen. His parachute landed beside him. “First combat jump. Why?”

Captain Westfield glanced at the silvery shard of metal in Jensen’s hand. “Most skydivers don’t hold the airplane so hard they tear a chunk off when they jump.”
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Worms – Friday Fictioneers

Written for the Friday Fictioneers. A story, about the pitfalls of avarice, begins after the photo.

Genre: Speculative Fiction/Humor

Photo by: Douglas M. MacIlroy

Worms

Tully was a scientific reporter, but mostly an opportunist.

Following Doctor Bosco through the lab, he knew immediately that some particular seashells were rare, and would fetch a lot of money. Surreptitiously, he snatched one just as Bosco turned. Tully dared not be caught. Thinking fast, he swallowed the shell.

Bosco selected a similar shell. “These came from the Challenger Deep,” he said. “They look like seashells, but they’re actually eggs.”

“Really?”

“Yep. They require strong acid, like stomach acid, to hatch into 30+ Polychaete Worms.

Tully gulped. “How big?”

“Huge. Eventually reaching 12 feet long…”

Tully swooned.

“I know!” exclaimed Bosco. “Amazing isn’t it?”
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Author’s Notes:
The Challenger Deep is the deepest known point in the Earth’s seabed hydrosphere: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Challenger_Deep
Polychaete Worm: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polychaete

Each week, The Friday Fictioneers go on fishing trips for beers, barbeque, and literary amusements. We write flash fiction from a freshly caught photo, and cook it up upon the coals of imagination. Great picture, Douglas! Join us if you like to party! Look here for more stories based upon the photo above: http://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/2014/10/15/17-october-2014/

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The Bridge – Mondays Finish The Story

Written for Mondays Finish The Story. A story, about a humble man with great power, begins after the photo.

Genre: Speculative Fiction/Spirituality/Humor

The Bridge

The people waved at him from the bridge below. His Holiness, The Pun Kai Llama smiled and waved back, his orange robes fluttering. As he continued across the gorge bridge, he noticed more people were waving from the other bridge, some with great enthusiasm. He heard them saying something like “watch out!” He waved again and called back, “Yes, it’s wonderful to watch nature’s beauty here!”

At last, he joined his disciples at the far side of the gorge.

“Holiness!” cried Hiu. “We were so worried.”

“But why?”

Hiu pointed to a sign at the entrance of the collapsed bridge. “The bridge is gone! How did you cross?”

His Holiness looked back and shrugged. “My child,” he smiled. “The bridge in my mind is in perfect working order!”
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Each Monday it’s time to finish the story. This week the intro is, “The people waved at him from the bridge below.” Look here for more stories in answer to this week’s challenge: http://mondaysfinishthestory.wordpress.com/2014/10/13/mondays-finish-the-story-october-13-2014/

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Ground Assault – Sunday Photo Fiction

Written for Sunday Photo Fiction. A story, about an alien ground assault on Earth, begins after the photo.

Genre: Science Fiction/Humor

Photo by: Alastair Forbes

Ground Assault

General Lleppis’Dau winced at the rhythmic sound of huge machines crashing together. He pulled the quadnoculars down from his four eyes. “What the hell is it doing?” he groused.

His aide, Captain Foudis’Bol said, “I believe it’s attempting to mate.”

“What? It’s humping a Human excavating machine! Besides, the assault tank has no more biological bits left to mate with!”

“Yes, sir, but most of sex in the brain. The MWE-452 assault tank uses the biological brain of an Ancurian Crab. Though their bodies are gone, their living brains still react predictably to external stimuli. And you must admit, the human excavating machine looks much like a crab female ready to mate.”

The General groaned and brushed his four antennae down into the short fur on his head. “But the crabs aren’t dumb animals. They have to know that mating is impossible in this situation.”

Foudis’Bol adjusted his robes to hide his anxiety. It wasn’t wise to disagree with the general, especially when food supplies were sparse. “Yes…ah. The scientific team says the crab mating ritual involves pheromones that override the crabs’ conscious thought.”

“What is the makeup of these pheromones?”

“Primarily, carbon monoxide. The human excavating machines burn fossil fuels, and the exhaust from their engines is poorly filtered. Our MWE-452s are awash in ten times the normal concentration of sexual scent. It’s disabling our tanks by placing them into sexual euphoria.”

“Ten times the usual carbon monoxide? How do these humans breathe? Oh, this is awful!” screeched the General. He pounded his battle staff into the dirt in frustration. “If this assault stalls, the humans will have enough time to put heavy weapons in place and defeat us before we take London.”

“Message coming in from General Effees’Gon, sir,” said Foudis’Bol, touching his clawed finger to his ear.

“Ah! the second thrust. If they can punch through, we’ll still win!”

“Ah…”

“Well? What does he say?”

“He is having problems.”

“What now?”

“His MWE-452 assault tanks have discovered a coal-burning plant.”
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Each week, Alastair Forbes sacrifices a first-born photo upon the pyre of literary creativity. We lucky souls get to write flash fiction from the ashes his sacrifice. Look here for more stories based upon the photo prompt above: http://sundayphotofictioner.wordpress.com/2014/10/12/sunday-photo-fiction-october-12th-2014/

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