How Things Have Changed

Photo by: Al Forbes

Photo by: Al Forbes

Walter Pugh hadn’t worked in the intelligence services for thirty years. He had enjoyed a stress-free retirement in Wales minding his rose bushes and refurbishing old furniture. Unfortunately, his comfortable existence couldn’t remain forever. His past would come back to haunt him.

Luckily, MI-5 learned of the rogue Russian kill squad coming to exact vengeance and “liquidate” Walter. Agent Brodie extracted him only scant minutes before the killers arrived.

Walter would have to be relocated once more, but until then he stayed with Brodie in a safe house in London. Brodie showed him around saying, “It’s an MI-5 safe house. All the controls are standard.”

Walter approached the bookcase where familiar books rested. He pulled on the title, “Jaws,” and the shower activated. He pulled on “Time Enough For Love,” and the bed slid out from the wall. All was pretty much as Walter remembered it.

He scowled. Shouldn’t things have been improved or updated by now? Was Russia also stuck with thirty-year old technology? One thing was different, though. He pulled on “The Forge of God,” and suddenly he was slammed to the floor. The entire safe house rose from the city and rocketed into space within seconds.

Brodie glared at him. “I suppose you missed the memo about the interstellar hyper drive?”
Written for the Sunday Photo Fiction writing challenge. Look here for this week’s writing prompt:

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Taking A Break, But I’ll Be Back

Hey Folks,

Thanks for stopping by occasionally and checking in. I appreciate that a lot.

I haven’t been writing much lately because I’m just taking a break. I thought when Hannah got a little older she would be more independent and that would let me write more easily. Actually, she is more independent, but that only means she gets into trouble faster than ever before. Yikers!

Shey and I bought a house, and we’re thrilled. The day of the move it was 106 degrees (F) out. Just taking a small box downstairs was exhausting. We’re all moved now. Lots of our time is taken up with unpacking and organizing. I mowed the lawn for the first time in decades. So that’s where I’ve been. Not to worry. My writing fingers are starting to get twitchy.

Meanwhile, Hannah is still our favorite photography subject. Here’s some pics from our latest picnic with Filipino friends.



Filipinos know how to eat.




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The Reversal

Photo by: Al Forbes

Mr. Liang’s Curio Shop had rested there on Canal St. for decades. It had featured in famous photos of the city and on numerous touristy postcards. But times had changed and business was conducted via the internet. Fewer people stopped to see Liang’s magical talismans and cure-alls. His debts to the Eastern Sun Bank were mounting, and Liang needed to refinance.

Mr. Tong and Mr. Liu sat at Liang’s dusty desk covered with ornamental dragons, dried Yew leaves, and a petrified Tiger Paw. The bankers knew they had him over a barrel, and they weren’t backing down an inch. Truly, they wanted his loan to default. That way, the gentrification of Canal St. might continue with the bank owning the space.

“What can you offer for collateral?” said Tong, smiling a predator’s smile.

Liang swiped at his mustache which grew a foot past his face. It was an affectation to be sure, but when selling magical items one must look the part. “My shop, of course!”

“We need more,” smirked Liu.

Liang had tried to avoid this. He truly believed in helping people. His eyes narrowed and he said, “I must consult the spirits for guidance.”

Tong hid a chuckle with a cough. Liu openly rolled his eyes.

“What? I run a magical shop,” protested Liang. “Are you surprised?”

It was true that most of Liang’s magical items were useless crap, but not everything was.

He lit three candles, each one shaped like a star. Liang made the complex gestures and voiced the song of reversal. In moments, the smoke pouring from the candles took on the shape of an armored warrior carrying a Guandao. The small figure held the pole-arm over its head then slashed once towards Tong, slashed again towards Liu. The tiny figure nodded curtly towards Liang, then disappeared.

“It is done,” said Liang, standing up.

“Nice hologram,” smirked Liu. “But nothing is done.”

“It is,” said Liang. “Thank you so much for your help.” He ushered the two protesting bankers out the door.

Two days later, the two returned, frantic. “My bank accounts and investments are all gone!” shouted Tong.

“I’m losing my house and my car!” shrieked Liu. “You did this. You must help us!”

Liang straightened his new $800 silk tie. “Perhaps I can. What do you have for collateral?”

Author’s notes:


Written for Sunday Photo Fiction. Look here for the original writing prompt and a blue button linking to more of this week’s stories:

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Exchange Student

This week, the Friday Fictioneers use a retread photo. This is the story I wrote that for pic way back then.

Momus News

Written for the Friday Fictioneers. A story, about a strange exchange student, begins after the photo.

Genre: Science Fiction/Humor

Photo by: Douglas M. MacIlroy

Exchange Student

Natalie was concerned about the exchange student. His papers said he was from Bangladesh. Not being familiar with the country, Natalie just assumed everyone had those strange looking eyes. Still, she didn’t understand why he charged into his room to wear the diving helmet he put on so often.

She knocked on the door. “Are you alright, Ix’Halti’Thanex?” It was a weird name, but people in foreign countries had funny names.

“I’m okay!” he called.

In the room, Ix’Halti’Thanex breathed in the sweet smell of Ammonia in the mask.

“How do these Humans breathe?” he muttered, and he activated his FTL communicator.
The Friday Fictioneers swim to shore every week to write up to 100 words of flash fiction from a writer-donated photo…

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The Waste

Photo by: Matthew Wright

She had named herself, Bri’Nata, and she was half again larger than the meter-long Coconut Crabs. Only four times in Earth’s history had a creature’s mutations been so complete, so astoundingly beneficial. Bri’Nata had four equally-capable sisters.

If you could copy Einstein’s brain and run thirteen of them in parallel, they still couldn’t solve problems as fast as Bri’Nata. She could see well into the infrared and ultra-violet spectrum. She could sense perturbations, cracks, in space-time where it was child’s play to slip through and enter hyperspace. Their carapace’s acting like spacesuits, the sisters had already visited Jupiter, Wolf357, and Deneb (1550 light years from Earth). They built a hyperdrive to help them explore even further.

Luckily, these super-minds possessed a kindly demeanor. They saw humanity as woefully backward yet quite cute. Bri’Nata and her sisters had only completed their hyperdrive when nature called. The impulse to return to the sea and lay eggs overwhelmed even their powerful intellects. So Bri’Nata left the hyperdrive on Professor Gordon MacNee’s workbench before departing for the sea.

She approached the rocky beach where she had once emerged as a baby crab. There, she would lay her own eggs. Thousands of her progeny might be born to carry on her work and take Humanity to the stars.

A shadow suddenly fell across her. She had a moment to think, “oh bugger,” before an ATV’s tire crushed her into oblivion.

“Woohoo!” crowed Billy-Joe. “I just love the way they go splat! That’s my third ‘un.”

“Dang! I only got two,” complained Cooter.

“Well let’s go get some more!”

Back at Professor MacNee’s house, his wife Genevieve found the hyperdrive on his workbench. “Oh that’s so colorful,” she exclaimed. “It’s just the thing to plant my hibiscus in!”
Author’s Notes:

Coconut Crabs are the largest land arthropods in the world:


Written for author, Matthew Wright’s Short Story Challenge. Look here to find the original prompt:

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The Horse Spy

Photo by: Al Forbes

Atticus Caravaggio couldn’t believe his eyes. What happened at the edge of the Wild Horse herd shouldn’t be possible. Moving as silently as possible within his hastily-constructed hide, he reviewed the film. He hadn’t hallucinated after all.

He turned another camera directly upon himself and spoke in excited whispers.

“What I’ve witnessed today is astounding! A pair of wolves stalked the edge of a wild horse herd. Three of the horses made the terrible mistake of drifting away from the herd to attend to an apparently injured member. This put them all at risk because remaining with the herd is their best chance at survival.

“The wolves saw their chance and attacked. The lame horse moved with unexpected energy and vitality. Its great head swung around with expert accuracy and bit through the wolf’s foreleg, crippling it. The second wolf, unable to process the shocking reversal, also attacked. One of the horse’s mates attacked the leaping wolf and sheared through the predator’s neck.

“I must confess I was already dazed at this, but then the three horses began to feed on the dying yet still alive wolves. They ripped away large gobbits of flesh and swallowed them whole.

“I cannot believe these events, but the camera footage proves it all. Predatory Horses my friends. They demonstrated impressive intelligence by deceitfully luring in their prey. This is a quantum leap in horse evolution! What else might these formerly dumb herbivores be capable of? Can they speak? Create art? What are the limits of their deceitful behavior?”

Excitedly, Atticus packed up his cameras and walked back to his riding horse. It was carefully picked because it was related to the wild horses he studied. He hoped that it would disturb his subjects far less than a jeep. As he cradled the camera with the critical footage, his horse lifted a hoof and knocked the camera from his hands.

“Stupid buffoon!” raged Atticus.

Angrily, the horse stomped the precious camera into tiny bits.

“Stupid beast!” roared Atticus. “Can you realize what you’ve done?”

In answer, the horse lifted its lip…and bared fangs.
Written for Sunday Photo Fiction. Look here for the original prompt for the week and a blue button linking to a collection of this week’s stories:

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Penniless But…

Photo by: Piya Singh

History is full of brilliant minds who died penniless. Galileo and Poe are two of them.

Norton Curry is another.

Norton and wife Enid lived childless in an old stone mill in Virginia. Curry attempted to invent a skin creme. The result was far different.

Years after Norton’s death, researchers learned his skin creme eliminated cancer, reduced aging, and was a powerful aphrodisiac. He might have made billions, yet he died poor.

But, this isn’t a sad story.

After raising 18 children, Norton and Enid were still studying the creme’s aphrodisiac effects the night Curry died of heart failure…at the age of 137.

Author’s Notes:

I didn’t have room to add another favorite, Petr Ufimtsev. This soviet researcher helped develop the world-beating technology of Stealth. This technology helps makes military aircraft, not invisible, but “low observable” to radar. Yet in the USSR Ufimtsev was virtually unknown. From The Moscow Times:

When he was told what his researches had built, he shrugged. “Senior Soviet designers were absolutely uninterested in my theories,” he said.

Luckily, he didn’t die penniless, and he joined the faculty at UCLA.

Written for the Friday Fictioneers. Look here for the original prompt and links to many other stories:

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