The Argument – Sunday Photo Fiction

Written for Sunday Photo Fiction. A story, a story about an argument being more important than a momentous occasion, begins after the photo.

Genre: Speculative Fiction/Humor

Photo by: Alastair Forbes

The Argument

There are few people as single-minded as scientists. A scientist might possess the knowledge to explain the greatest mysteries of the universe, but might be flummoxed by setting the ringtone of his cellphone. This was well exemplified by the eminent professors of Britannic History, Hamish Brown and Robert Haversham.

Neither of them had many colleagues, and fewer friends, though their research was highly regarded. The reason for this was the only thing either treasured more than history…was a cracking good argument. Few people could endure their presence, either singly or together, for more than an hour. And so it was that the pair found themselves standing atop the ruins of a site listed as a McConnell homestead site. A fact both disputed, but for different reasons.

Hamish poked at the stones with his cane, more focused on a single rock of the foundation than the beauty of the rolling green hills all around him. “Ye see that marbling? This clearly came from the quarry at Fordyce. QED, that makes this a Dunwoodie site.”

Robert, a tall thin man to Hamish’s diminutive pudgy profile, had to stoop to look. “That only proves my point. The McKeagues also used stones from Fordyce. You’ve made my case for me!”

“But look at the marbling. This came from the Southern quarry. The McKeague family only built after the Southern quarry closed. Ha!”

“You’re missing something important. Look at the mortar, made with clay from Tannehill creek. Only the McKeagues had access to Tannehill.”

Hamish hitched up his trousers. “If that’s your estimation, then it’s still not McKeague at all, it’s a Donnellan site.”

“You’re daft, man!”

The argument drew on for hours. Most of the tourists had fled the scene. The constable nearby, in charge of security, noticed he’d developed two more grey hairs.

A powerful wind blew up and still the professors argued, their dispute more important than anything else occurring above their heads. The few remaining tourists did look up to see the 300 meter-long starship coming in for a landing upon the ruins. While others backed off to avoid being crushed, Hamish and Robert argued on, just more loudly. The starship stopped just above their heads, a tartan for McDougald clan clearly marked beside the ship’s name, “Shillelagh.”

It was perhaps the single most significant event in human history. Proof that the Scots had invented interstellar travel in 1137, long before the invention of black powder rifles. Unfortunately, the ship couldn’t land with the professors standing on the ruins, and it hovered patiently, waiting for Hamish and Robert to get out of the way. Eventually, an exasperated Scot stuck his head out of a nearby hatch. “‘Ere now ye’ bampots! Clear out. Canna ye’ see we’re tryin’ta land?”

Hamish looked up at the single-most important human being in history and said, “Bugger off, ye pansy. We’re having an argument!”

The Scot looked back in the hatch and said. “There! I tol’ ye, Flannery. Noothin’s changed. Yer fookin’ theory about Humans evolvin’ is shite. Let’s go back to space!”
Each week, Alastair Forbes sacrifices one of his original photos to the god of writing challenges. This week’s pic is no different. Look here for exciting and interesting stories based upon the photo above:

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New Boyfriend – Friday Fictioneers

Written for the Friday Fictioneers. A story, about bringing home an unconventional boyfriend, begins after the photo.

Genre: General Fiction/Humor

Photo by: Marie Gail Stratford

New Boyfriend

The dinner had gone better than Gina Cheng ever hoped. Her father, Hong-Li, said little to her boyfriend, but then he rarely spoke anyway. Her mother, Qing, always the supportive one, waved goodbye to Hank as he drove away on his Harley-Davidson. Slowly, as if dreading what must come next, she closed the door.

That left Gina anxiously searching her father’s face. “So…Dad. Nice, huh?”

Hong-Li just stared at the door.

“Daddy?” Gina’s lip quivered. “Was it his tattoos? The piercings?”

Qing whispered, “Hong-Li, please…”

Hong-Li’s right eyelid quivered.

Gina braced herself.

“Well,” grunted Hong-Li. “At least he can use chopsticks!”
Each week the Friday Fictioneers all join together for Dim-Sum (eaten with chopsticks) and Oolong Tea and discuss how flash fiction could eventually save the world. Okay, that’s not really true; we don’t always have Dim-Sum, but still, each week a bevy of wonderful stories emerge from a photo prompt. Look here for more terrific stories based on the photo above:

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Simulation – Yeah Write Summer Series


The bridge smelled like someone needed a shower, noted Lieutenant Commander Leander. He shifted in the command chair and scraped his elbow on the hole worn into the plastic of the armrest. All of the command team were righties and they tended to slouch against the right armrest, eventually wearing a hole in the imitation fabric.

Leander smirked at the notion. His gaze panned across the nine stations of the bridge. Crewman watched their screens more or less carefully, faces lit by the screens. Cables from backup comms equipment swung languidly from the overhead. Scuff marks decorated the deck between the stations. WT1 Utama buried his hands in some equipment, occupying himself with minor maintenance. Starman Copin looked elegant as always, her auburn hair coiffed in another complex braid. Somehow, she she made Navy-issue coveralls look tasteful.

The details Leander watched were endless, down to the chipped paint on the intertial-damping console, but all of it was simulation. In fact, the bridge was a near featureless space, with only nine acceleration couches for the bridge crew, and damn-near nothing else. The helmet Leander wore, that connected to his brain through complex bio-circuitry, simply told him what he saw. In a warship, like their heavy cruiser “CSS Kenya,” living-space came at a premium. There wasn’t room for an airy bridge with lots of space between stations, yet it was a very natural human desire to want such things. Regardless, it wasn’t practical from a military perspective, especially not when a standard Virtual Reality Helmet could project the comforting impression of space and detail.

If Leander removed his VRH, the boring, cramped truth would be revealed.

“Contact!” called ST2 Henning. His fingers danced expertly across the flush keys on his his console. Data scrolled across the holographic screen before him. “Gravitic anomoly bears 0-1-2 Zulu 3-2-7.” He pronounced each integer in the bearing numbers (012 and 327) individually, the Navy way, to avoid mishearing a value.

Leander didn’t even bother to check his display. One of the advantages of VRHs was training simulations could be run often, as they were now. While cruising the very edge of Human Space, where nothing ever happened, simulations were a way of life for the bridge crew. Nearly always, the simulations included some kind of combat to keep the crew sharp. Once in a while, just to keep folks on their heels, the boffins in the Tech Center, ran a simulation without combat. Leander had friends down there in “The Hole” and he new for a fact nothing was scheduled to happen in this watch’s simulation. “Check it again, Henning. Are you sure?”

“Yes, Sir. Already double-checked. CIC confirms the contact.”

Those bastards, scowled Leander. No more blackmarket porn for them until they learn to slip him accurate info on the sims. Fine! Time to see what the geeks have dreamed up. “Range to the contact, Henning?”

“Sir! It’s…5,000 yards and closing!”

“Yards?” In space, point-blank range was about 100,000 kilometers. “What the hell, Henning?”

“It’s very small, sir…” A loud clang reverberated through the bridge, interrupting Henning. “It’s hit us!”

Leander winced. A boarding sim? The crowd in The Hole had been working overtime. That explained why they didn’t give him the straight poop. They wanted to impress him. Leander sat up in the chair. This was a different and interesting simulation at least, He brought up a signals window on his screen, “Marines! Standby to repel boarders.”

An explosion hammered Leander and the bridge crew at their stations. Dust and particles of the ship’s armor swirled in clouds. Leander marveled at the work the boffins put into simulating the explosion. He turned in his chair to see a hole, cables and shattered structural members dangling, in the back of the bridge.

The first one entered in the sudden null gravity of the compartment. It looked like a slender, predatory dinosaur, albeit one in a spacesuit complete with armor and a very obvious assault weapon in its four-digit hands. Two more, then three more slipped through. They moved with the uncanny grace of supreme athletes, each step perfectly balanced, poised.

Leander couldn’t help his wide grin. This is the best combat simulation ever! As he took his helmet off to release an elated cheer, he dimly heard Henning’s voice screaming something from the helmet. He ignored it as he saw the bland, featureless bridge.

He turned and realized, the hole in the aft bulkhead was still there, and the creature leveling a weapon at him was very, very real.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Container

This week’s photo challenge is: Container. I struggled with this one at first. I primarily photograph nature, not grain silos. Then again there’s all kinds of containers. A seed is one, containing the DNA to to make a new plant and keeping it safe until conditions are right. So here are my offerings for the challenge.


Lover’s quarrel.
Possibly the most important container of all…anything containing a Cuba Libre…



Look for more amazing photos right here:

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The Perfect Trap – Sunday Photo Fiction

Written for Sunday Photo Fiction. A story, about a slight miscalculation in the proper bait to use, begins after the photo.

Genre: Science Fiction/Humor

Photo by: Alastair Forbes

The Perfect Trap

Splork looked down through the port hole in the bottom of the spaceship, hovering in complete silence just above the street between pecan trees. Their ship was fully stealthed, making it invisible to radar and human eyes alike. Though their position was quite undetectable, Splork felt antsy. “Are you sure this is going to work?”

“Of course it is,” said Spinth, leaning his head back in his upper pair of hands. “The people of Earth love Futbol. The sport is played across the planet.”

“So this will work as bait?” said Splork, looking dubiously at the soccer ball.

“Absolutely. Most likely, a human child will see it and pick it up. He’ll be directly beneath our transporter, and then we’ll beam him up. The perfect trap!”

“So, what does Dr. Skorth want with a human child anyway?”


Splork gnashed his mandibles with anxiety. “No! He won’t spray perfume in their eyes will he?”

“I doubt it.”

“Use them for radiation leak testing?”

“No, silly! Where do you get these ideas?”

“You hear about animal testing all the time, and I hate that. I’m a full member of PETA, you know.”

Spinth rolled in the tub so his other fins could get some water. “If you must know, he wants to know if humans can be trained to operate starships. It’s intelligence testing.”

Splork sighed with relief, then returned to analyzing the data screen. “I still don’t understand why we went back in time to 1962.”

“I don’t know. Something about burgeoning human interest in space travel.”

Splork watched a pickup truck run over the soccer ball. His analyses of human sports was producing anomalies. He pointed to the bait. “So that’s a football, right?”

Spinth sighed. “I’ve done my research, Splork. It’s a futbol.”

“You sure that’s not a soccer ball?”

“Of course not! Nobody plays soccer in Amarillo, Texas, especially not in 1962! You gotta use an American futbol.”

“But the spelling is…”

“Just relax, Splork! It’ll work.”

Splork sighed and watched another pickup run over the ball. He settled in for a long wait.
Each week, Alastair Forbes sacrifices one of his own photos for the greater good, and writers from around the world are impelled to write flash fiction based upon it. Good here and have a look at what other writers have imagined from the photo:

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A Gift From Nature


A Gift From Nature

After an arduous couple days at work, Shey needed some serious de-stressing. How do we de-stress? We go birding! On this day, we decided to go to McKinney Falls park which we know very well. We had no idea of the amazing experience in store for us.

When we started, the Ranger office was closed but the gates were left open. As always there are envelopes available so that people can pay using the honor system. Well, cars stopped long enough to realize no one was collecting payment and they just streamed on through. Shey and I have a yearly parks pass so we never have to pay cash to the rangers. I suggested we just go on through since we have the pass anyway. This isn’t strictly correct. You should still fill out the little envelope with pass number and place it in the drop box. Shey insisted on this.

What goes around, comes around

The saying goes, “What goes around, comes around.” This works, not only for bad things, but good things too. When entering the trail, we found a 20 square yard area with eight different species of birds. That’s a very dense concentration.  Further down, we found a Painted Bunting. Always a treat. Already, this was a good birding day. It seems things were “coming around.”A little more hiking, and I noticed an Eastern Phoebe perched two feet away from me. Two feet! Birds just don’t do this. And then this happened…

We’re both whispering quietly during the video because we didn’t want to frighten the bird, but inside our heads we’re both screaming, THIS IS THE COOLEST EVER! We didn’t prompt the bird to land on us. We realized it wasn’t flying away, so we tried to get a pic of us and the bird at the same time. The Phoebe just hopped on us. After landing on me, we tried placing Shey beside the bird’s favorite perch, and amazingly, the bird went along with our ideas. My camera ran out of batteries, otherwise we could show you when the bird landed on the camera!

We figure this is a juvenile that doesn’t yet know to avoid humans. We arrived at the right place at the right time. We had to use Shey’s cam for the video above. Here’s a little vid I caught before my battery died.

More pics we collected along the way.



It was a wonderful day with a great Gift from Nature. We went home, quite de-stressed and positively elated.

Thanks for everything, Mother Nature.

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House Guardian – Friday Fictioneers

Written for the Friday Fictioneers. A story, about a dramatic change in life but familiar things still remain, begins after the photo.

Genre: Speculative Fiction

Photo by: Adam Ickes

House Guardian

Val found the stuffed ram’s head while helping unpack. “Oh Karen! Let’s throw this out.”

“That’s Craig’s,” sighed Karen. “He said it was the House Guardian.” She hung it in the entryway.

“Sweetie, it’s been three years. Time to move on.”

“I know. I still want a memento of him.”

“Hey, I’m pooped. Let’s run out for a frappuccino.”

Later, the women returned to Karen’s new house. Just inside the door, they found a man laying on the floor, unconscious, lockpicks still in his hand. Above him, the ram had a balaclava in it’s mouth.

Karen winked at it. “Thanks Craig.”
Each week, wads of willing writers wax poetic in this weekly writing challenge called Friday Fictioneers. 100 words from a photo prompt, stimulate sundry stories of special skills and surreptitious sallying. Look here for more stories from the photo prompt above:

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