The Breakup – Weekly Writing Challenge

Written for the Weekly Writing Challenge. A story, an interpretation of the famous “Nighthawks” painting by Edward Hopper, begins after Hopper’s painting.

Genre: Science Fiction/Horror

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper, 1942. Public Domain

The Breakup

Mitzy wasn’t so sure about Trevor anymore. Sure, he was a looker and all, but what attracted her at first was his apparent intelligence. More and more, it became clear to her that it was just talk. Hours and hours of pointless talk. He talked to everybody, especially attractive women. Too much for her tastes. It was embarrassing sometimes. He behaved like he knew things he actually didn’t. She wondered what the older guy, sitting around the corner of the diner, thought about Trevor interrupting his meal.

“That’s interesting, George,” said Trevor. “What kind of scientist?”

“Physics,” said George, looking over the Times crossword puzzle. “I work with rare elements like uranium.”

Mitzy gazed at the gray-suited man, suddenly curious.

“Never heard of it,” said Trevor. “You know, I been meaning to talk with one of youse guys.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. Were you here when that War of the Worlds broadcast happened last year? The one with that Welles guy?”

“Yeah, sure. A lot of folks got upset about it,” said George, lighting a cigarette. “Stupid, if you ask me.”

Mitzy noticed Pete, the soda-jerk, casting furtive looks her way as he cleaned glasses in the sink. His eyes seemed too dark for an orange-haired kid. His attention disturbed her in a way she couldn’t explain. Mitzy’s flame red hair regularly gathered more admirers than she liked. She was used to it, sort of. She hoped a flinty-eyed look at the kid would give him a hint, but Pete’s black eyes were merciless.

Trevor sat his Fedora down and ran his fingers through his hair. He continued interrogating George. “But they said it was really convincing. Just like a real news program.”

“They also said several times it was fictional,” countered George.

“You know what else I heard? They said the government was just passing it off like it was fake, but it still happened.”

George scowled and pushed his glasses up. “Poppycock! It couldn’t happen anyway. In the story, the aliens died because they had no defense against the germs. That’s why it would never happen. Aliens can’t survive here.”

“Oh I hate the Germans. Causing a ruckus and all,” offered Pete. He grinned sidelong at Mitzy.

Mitzy gave him a warning eyebrow.

“Forget Hitler and his German Nazis.” Trevor waved the notion away. “He’s Europe’s problem. Anyways, George means germs. Those little things that make folks sick. So, this guy tells me the alien invasion failed, but they didn’t all die. Instead they figured out how to combine their genes with ours.”

“So they wear Levis now?” asked Pete.

“No, not jeans. Little things again but these are good ones. Anyways, the aliens mixed genes with us and are walking among us, looking like us, but they ain’t US!”

There he goes. Talking too much again. Where did he get this?

Mitzy squeezed Trevor’s arm. “Sweetie?”

George leaned forward and stubbed his cigarette out. “I’ll give you credit for knowing about genes, Mr. Smith. Only a few scientists are working on that, but I think you’ve been reading ‘Astounding Science Fiction’ too much. THAT is nothing but a load of hooey!”

“Sweetie,” insisted Mitzy, pulling on his arm. She tried to ignore the feel of Pete’s gaze wandering over her. “I’m tired. I wanna go.”

“Okay, doll.” Trevor patted her hand. He tipped his hat to George and Pete and escorted Mitzy outside.

As they walked back to the car, a brand new 1939 Packard, Mitzy said, “Trev, you gotta stop talking about that stuff. It bothers people.”

“What stuff?” said Trevor. His wingtip shoes clacked loudly in the alleyway.

“Like about the aliens combining DNA. People might think that’s real or something.”

“It is real! This guy told me about it. And what’s ‘DNA’ anyways?”

Mitzy stopped Trevor and looked him hard in the eye. “Really? You know a guy who knows about it?”

“Yeah. He’s kinda a looney but he knows a lot. Always usin’ his noggin.”

Mitzy turned and led him further into the alley. As they walked, a thorny protuberance slipped out of its sheath at the base of her skull. It snaked through her red hair, down her back, twisting and turning like a malevolent vine. Trevor couldn’t see it curling behind his shoulder as he prattled on. In one swift motion, the thorn speared into the soft tissue at the base of his skull, narrowly avoiding his spine before it sliced up to his medulla oblongata. Trevor fell limp, twitching slightly in seizure as Mitzy’s alien appendage held him aloft. Fine tendrils erupted from the tip and wormed through the tissues of his brain, searching.

“Sorry to break up like this,” soothed Mitzy. “But I need to know what you’ve learned about us.”

She sighed, thinking about the superior brain of George the scientist. He’d possess better genetic material. She smiled wanly at Trevor. “It wasn’t going to work out anyway.”
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Author’s Notes:
The War of the Worlds radio broadcast by Orson Welles (at a time when folks got ALL information via radio) caused a real panic. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_War_of_the_Worlds_(radio_drama)
Astounding Scientific Fiction and Fact magazine later became Analog Magazine: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analog_Science_Fiction_and_Fact
Though scientists attempted to understand genetics for many years, DNA wasn’t truly pinned down until 1952: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DNA#History_of_DNA_research

Look here for more stories answering the challenge: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_writing_challenge/find-a-muse-in-the-masters/
Find a Muse in the Masters

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Wedding Night – Microstories #185

doorway_w486_h725

“Bumping, bumping. Constant bumping!” muttered Count Dracula.

He knocked on the door to the adjoining room. “Hey Frankenstein!” he called. “I realize you’re very strong and it’s been a long wait for you, but take it easy. I just electrocuted her last night!”

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Wonderful Rhythm – Friday Fictioneers

Written for the Friday Fictioneers. A story, about a disastrous first date, begins after the photo.

Genre: Romance/Humor

Photo by: Melanie Greenwood

Wonderful Rhythm

Jack pointed at the table and chairs. “It happened right there,” he smiled.

“Our first date,” grinned Annette.

“You had a pimple.”

“Your suit was rumpled.”

“You showed me your watch.”

“…Then the runaway ambulance jumped the curb and hit you.”

Jack winced. “But I knew you loved me already, because you visited me in the hospital.”

“I wanted my watch back.”

“Oh. You loved that watch.”

“It ticked a wonderful rhythm.”

“You weren’t in love then?” sighed Jack.

“Not yet.”

“I thought when you put your head on my chest…”

“I felt sorry.”

“Oh.”

“Then I realized…your heart beats this wonderful rhythm.”
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Every week, the Friday Fictioneers meet at a cafe in Boston to eat octopus and pineapple pizza (not really), and imagine flash fiction stories from a photo prompt. Look here to find the other stories inspired the photo above: http://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/2014/10/29/31-october-2014/

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Ambulance – Mondays Finish The Story

Ambulance

Little did we know that Grandpa was a collector. He patted the dusty red hood of a ’37 Chevy. “This here’s Juliette. She was an Army ambulance back in the day. Saved a stack of lives.” Grandpa Givens lovingly caressed it. “I love her, and she loves me too. I can feel it.”

“Okay Dad,” said Elle, grinning at his enthusiasm.

Two months later, Elle heard the strangled voice of her father on the phone. She drove to his home fast as she could. Graciela, the housekeeper, said he’d already driven to the hospital. Elle raced off again, now worrying about an accident. At the hospital, Grandpa Givens was fine. Naturally, his concern lay with his truck, Juliette, parked outside.

Doctors and interns huddled over the old Chevy at the emergency entrance. “What are you guys doing?” asked Elle.

“Nothing,” said a doctor. He pointed to the empty engine compartment. “Just wondering how Mr. Givens drove it here!”
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Each week on Monday, it’s time to finish the story. The idea is to write on from a starting sentence and, using the photo prompt, finish the story. This is my offering. Look here to see the other stories: http://mondaysfinishthestory.wordpress.com/2014/10/27/mondays-finish-the-story-october-27th-2014/

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Halloween Decoration – Sunday Photo Fiction

Written for Sunday Photo Fiction. A story, about a very unusual Halloween decoration, begins after the photo.

Genre: Horror/Humor

Photo by: Alastair Forbes

Halloween Decoration

A jack o’ lantern sat on an especially dark portion of the porch. It moved slightly as Halloween revelers passed by. “Woe to YOU sons of Adam and daughters of Eve. The eternal darkness shall swallow you!” boomed the lantern in a grating demonic voice.

One mother grinned at the lantern, wondering at the advances of technology. Still, she guided her children past the shouting decoration.

“Your eyes shall be plucked out and roasted upon the eternal flames of Mephistopheles!” roared the lantern.

Another mother guided her children across the street, attempting to cover six ears with two hands.

Three older boys, with the burgeoning confidence of their early teens, approached to watch the bellowing jack o’ lantern.

“Oh man, that’s cool!” said Micky.

“Not bad. I think they’re selling them at Walmart,” said Phil.

Micky noted that the windows were dark. “There’s nobody home. Let’s get it.”

They slipped through the house gate, moving quickly but silently.

“GO BACK!” boomed the lantern. “I will feast upon your blackened flesh! I will make candles of your skulls!”

“So awesome,” grinned Micky, briefly wondering what size batteries it took. He reached for the lantern.

Flames burst from the pumpkin that momentarily engulfed Micky’s jacket. “Feel the touch of Beelzebub’s whip! Know the will of the master!” roared the lantern. The fires on Micky’s shoulder quickly faded and the fabric smouldered. Micky screamed and the other boys screamed too. They turned and dashed out the gate, shouting as they ran for home.

“MUHAHAHA!” bellowed the pumpkin.

The house screen door slammed shut and Williard walked up to the lantern. He nudged the guffawing pumpkin with a work boot. “Eusphenax.” warned Williard.

“Begone mortal! Lest I feast upon your entrails!”

Williard allowed the fire extinguisher drop to his side.

“OH! Hey, what’s this?” said Eusphenax in a soft, placating voice. “Threats already? Can’t we just talk?”

“I agreed to put you in the pumpkin for the month of Halloween, but only if you behave, remember?”

“Oh c’mon! This is me, man. I gotta be me!”

“Do you want to go back into the ceramic Tinkerbelle now?”

Eusphenax winced in terror. “Okay, okay! I’ll be good.”

Williard turned and stomped back inside. Eusphenax addressed the Halloween revelers once more in a subdued voice.

“Woooo! WOOO! Happy Halloween everyone!”
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Each week, Alastair Forbes sacrifices one of his own photos upon the fires of imagination so that we may write flash fiction based upon it. Look here for more stories based upon the photo above: http://sundayphotofictioner.wordpress.com/2014/10/26/sunday-photo-fiction-october-26th-2014/

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Cover Art

This week’s Photo challenge is: Cover Art. The idea is to offer up a photo that would grace a music album or book cover or something similar. Personally, I think the genius of this style was John Berg who did the poetic yet simple cover albums for the band, Chicago. Then again, I think Roger Dean made my favorite albums ever. Alternatively, John Berkey is probably my favorite science fiction artist of all time. None of these were photos, but I admire their view of the world. Here are my ideas for album and book covers.

Steely Dan revival album: “St. Louis In My Soul.”
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Blues Traveler album: “Hobo Road.”
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Neil Gaiman book cover: “Cactus Man.”
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Urban Fantasy collection 2014: “Harrow Trees.”
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John Cougar Mellencamp’s latest album. “Harvest Birds.”
IMG_9461
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John Berg: http://www.guildhall.org/john-bergs-iconic-album-cover-designs/
Roger Dean: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Dean_%28artist%29
John Berkey: http://www.johnberkey.com/gallery/space/

Look for many more answers to the challenge here: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/cover-art/

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Illusions – Grammar Ghoul Press

Illusions

Revelers dressed in bright colors, cavorted through the graveyard. Dia De Los Muertos was a happy event. A time where one celebrates relatives who had passed on, but no joy buoyed Rafaella’s heart.

She’d swept Papa’s grave clean of leaves and twigs. She kneeled beside his headstone, her tears a small waterfall of misery. “She suffers, Papa,” she moaned. “I cannot afford the medicine anymore. That bastard, Toro de Oro tells everyone to deny a job for me, and they must. They are all afraid of him. He only wants me for one thing. I can’t do that, Papa. It’s vile!” She collapsed in a heap upon the grave, sobbing. “Help me, Papa. Please!”

As night fell and the moon rose high, Rafaella sobbed herself to sleep.

Slipping through the dark blankets of slumber, she fell, spinning into the void. Panic began to grip her, and then she opened her eyes.

The sun shined upon sheep, grazing on rolling green hills amidst flowering Dogwood trees. The man sitting beside her wore a familiar vest and fedora, but it was his over-large nose and twinkling eyes that gave him away. “Papa!” Rafaella cried, and she hugged him tightly.

Salvador Molina returned her hug, then appraised her at arms length. “It’s good to see you pajarita.”

“Is this Heaven, Papa?”

“Yes and no, my child.”

“Are you not happy?”

“I am, but also sad. You see, I have never really left you, but illusions in life hide this. There is happiness here, but I see your sadness. In life, there is confusion and sorrow. Few understand the illusory nature of  the world. It causes much unnecessary pain and suffering.”

“Mama…”

“I know, child. No medicine can help her.” Rafaella began crying again. Salvador held her close. “Don’t worry pajarita. She’ll feel no pain anymore with me.”

“But I’ll be alone! And that monster, Toro de Oro, he wants me to…”

“Yes. About that puta, Hector, his strength is more illusion than reality.”

“But he controls the mine, the stores, the train. He owns everything, even the people.”

Salvador’s eyes twinkled. “Hector Cabrera’s castle is made of sand. You must be the sea. Let me show you something.”

***

Rafaella awoke in the drifting mists of dawn. Could the dream be real? Is it true? She walked past stone angels to a tree, its limbs barren of life. She touched a dry branch, and suddenly held a delicate blossom in her hand where none existed a moment before. The tree, she knew, was not dead and its blossom had never withered away. She now saw the world with new eyes that pierced the veil of reality’s illusions. Salvador had taught her how the world really worked.

She smiled.

Things were going to change.

***

Rafaella’s sundress shone brilliantly in the morning sun. Her silver high heels clicked as she stepped onto the marbled floors of Toro de Oro’s sprawling mansion. Hector’s four guards, armed with AK-47 assault rifles, saw and heard nothing. A touch from Rafaella’s delicate fingers and none of them could remember her passage. She was nothing more than mist, illusion’s shadow to them. They never saw the stack of legal documents she carried, nor the expensive pen she would have the documents signed with. They sensed only what Rafaella permitted.

Perhaps it is best they had no memory. What trauma would they know if they heard the screams of Toro de Oro for three hours? Screams that shattered glass in the room inside. Screams that sounded like a man being slowly chopped into pieces.

***

“Muy bueno!” gasped Director Soares as the beautiful woman in finery walked past him.

“That’s Rafaella Molina,” said Doctor Azarola. The pair watched her climb into her Jaguar limousine. “She visits once a month.”

“A donor for the asylum?”

“Sadly, no.”

“Typical rich!”

“She runs two orphanages and a school,” countered Azarola.

“Who does she visit?”

Azarola led the Director to a patient’s viewing window. “She’s not related to Hector Cabrera, but still sees him regularly.”

The bedraggled man inside rocked forlornly side to side in a wheelchair, his right arm hanging limply. He whimpered with despair as he gazed at his left hand, horrified eyes agonizing over his appendage.

“He believes his legs and right arm have been sheared off, and his hand is nothing but bone,” explained Aquino. “Yet his body is entirely intact.”

“What caused such a mental break?” wondered Soares.

Azarola shook his head. “A terrifying illusion in his mind.”
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Author’s Notes:
Toro de Oro means: Golden Bull
Pajarita means: Little Bird

Written for Grammar Ghoul Press. This week’s media prompt was an animation depicting a heart-warming story about Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead). This week’s word was, “Void.” Look here for more stories based upon the prompts: http://www.grammarghoulpress.com/gg-writing-challenge-4-open/

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