Friday Flash: Sea Life

The following story also appears in my short story collection, An Optimist’s Journal of the End of Days and Other Stories, published via Venetian Spider Press.

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The blue dress uniforms co-opted from the Navy were itchy. The sailors imprisoned within them were tired and hot and couldn’t wait for the ceremony to be over. The captain looked across the water at the setting sun. At least this would soon be over, and they’d get some respite from this day’s infernal heat. But yet…

He looked down into the cool depths of the ocean waters surrounding the metal monstrosity he had called his home for the better part of three years. The setting sun glowed gold and orange upon the waves. He shuddered.

“And do you, Mark Wallace, take this mermaid, Jasmine Petals, to be your lawfully wedded wife? In sickness and in health… forever and ever, by Neptune’s salty bits?”

The young sailor looked down at the mermaid clinging to the ship’s side, gulped, and nodded his head. The red-haired beauty in the crystal blue waters smiled in approval, exposing sharp incisors in her delicate, full-lipped mouth.

“By the eternal laws of the sea, by Neptune’s trident and Amphitrite’s coral crown,  I now pronounce you mer-man and mer-wife. The bride may now—”

With a stupendous leap, the new bride pulled her husband over the edge of the warship, dragging him along with her as she splashed into the waters below. Soon, not even the emerald green of her tail could be seen as she brought the new merman to her lair in the deep, dark waters.

The men and women shook their heads in wonder. There was a reason humans steered clear of Neptune’s children. The mermaid’s kiss might cure their fellow sailor’s cancer, but the cure might just be worse than the disease.

Captain Deadly allowed himself a rare sigh of pity for his former crewman before ordering his crew to hoist the Jolly Roger. Fresh plunder lay ahead, and he might need the gold. Who knew? In his own future, he might need to hire an oncologist.

*originally inspired by a photo prompt from Six Minute Story, but has since been edited and extended. You can find the original here.

**I wrote this today, so I didn’t have time to let it simmer as much as I like before posting. Please be kind. Polite feedback is always welcome and appreciated.

****Image courtesy of BigFoto.com

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Friday Flash: New Genesis

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On the first day, they programmed the terraforming equipment.
On the second, they did routine maintenance, then removed the genetically enhanced lifeforms from the ship’s stasis chambers.
On the third day, the new species were released onto the surface of the newly habitable world.
On the fourth day, the terraforming equipment malfunctioned, causing massive flooding and necessitating the immediate evacuation of the planet by the original three explorers.
On the fifth day, their craft crashed onto the surface of the planet. They re-evaluated their decision to use a robot mechanic instead of a humanoid one, once the mechanic broke down.
On the sixth day, they sent out distress signals, hoping against hope for a rescue party to retrieve them from the remote, ass-end of the galaxy.
On the seventh day, they resigned themselves to being stranded away from the civilization they had known.
Their current practical needs made them bitterly regret their precautions against corporate espionage which had caused then to shroud their mission in such secrecy. 

After a painful encounter with what had first seemed a hilarious stunt, they regretted bioengineering the platypus.

Due to relativistic time dilation, they set their still functioning stasis pods to wake them in alternating century intervals, in the vain hope that future explorers would discover their whereabouts.

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*I realize this is a departure from my regular style, but when I saw the text prompt at the six minute story site, I couldn’t resist.
*written for a text prompt at the sixminutestory site 2/24/16: They were trapped for seven days.
**Image courtesy of BigFoto.com.

Friday Flash: Tempting Fate

The following story also appears in my short story collection, An Optimist’s Journal of the End of Days and Other Stories, published via Venetian Spider Press.

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Clotho inhaled, enjoying the heady aroma of roasted beans and caffeine that permeated the small coffee shop. The temptation to step inside and grab a cup was irresistable. She didn’t know if mortals could actually smell caffeine, but it gave the goddess a deep sense of satisfaction–almost like the burnt offerings humans used to offer the gods in the past. But not now. Now, if they burned her coffee? Well, she’d be pissed.

What’s the worst that could happen?

A little chime sounded on the Fate’s cell phone. In the old days, there had been an actual tiny bell that would appear and disappear, but she savored the advancements that came with the passage of time, just as she savored a good cup of joe. She also liked the little bell sound. Best of both worlds, really.

And why not? She wasn’t trapped by linear time the way mortals were, but she enjoyed watching its passage from their perspective. She sipped her coffee, sighing with pleasure. The little bell chimed again.

What’s the worst that could happen?

Long ago, she’d put a filter on the alert, only taking note of those “great ones” who tempted Fate with those fateful words. Great ones? Ha! Just another term for “more fun to mess with.” As if politicians and celebrities held more sway over the tapestry of life than she and her sisters–or even wandering beggars in the right circumstances. Just pull the right thread, snip another, and whole swathes of cloth would unravel, only to be rewoven in the pattern of their choosing.

Even the gods themselves knew not to tempt Clotho and her sisters, for while they could be generous, they also found a challenge hard to resist.

What’s the worst that could happen?

Let’s see. Buddha and Christ had both been beggars who changed the world for the better. Would she be that generous this time? She checked her notifications to see who had tempted…er, challenged her so often in the past few minutes. Upon seeing the name, she scowled and decided that perhaps this time, she and her sisters would not be kind.

She texted Atropos and Lachesis about their latest challenge. Their reply?
This will be FUN.
Clotho chuckled to herself. Two more mochaccinos suddenly appeared on the counter in front of the startled barista; the goddess grabbed the white styrofoam cups, tucked her cell back into her earth-friendly tote, and headed out the (now) automatic doors.

*Image courtesy of BigFoto.com.

Friday Flash: Ziggy and Helga

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The door wouldn’t open.

The yawning void of space beyond its metal barrier was nothing compared to the look on Helga’s face as she wielded the torn box he’d given her. Bits of red cellophane still clung by small pieces of tape on its cardboard surface. Lightning flashed in the depths of her eyes, her voice echoed like thunder in the small cargo bay, and her scarlet cape billowed behind her as she approached. The small room had absolutely no wind, not even a small breeze from the air-conditioning vent, but she managed to make it billow just the same.

Ziggy tried the door once more, pounding on the big red button repeatedly, but the fail-safe refused to be overridden while the ship’s AI detected life-forms within the chamber. Then again, the AI wasn’t married to Helga.  Why did he buy his anniversary gift from Hans Olof of all people? Smugglers weren’t known for their expertise in romance, but since they both were in love with strong women…Valkyries weren’t that different from princesses, were they? They both had high standards, were tough as nails, and looked great in brass bikinis.

Still, for all her bravado, no matter how short Hans fell in the romance department, his beloved was still a diplomat whose displeasure would not result in physical violence upon his person. Valkyries were not known for diplomacy. Helga was a warrior maiden, servant of Odin, and kick-ass starship pilot, so her displeasure was an altogether different matter.

“What in the name of Asgard is this?” screamed Helga in the voice that had made lesser men turn to jelly, and she threw the box with deadly aim at Zigfried. It hit the thick metal door, just to the left of his head, and left a large dent.

“You missed,” he said. What the hell was he thinking? He watched her sparkling eyes, the way her nostrils flared, her ample hips and heaving bosom. She was not a tiny woman; her presence was intimidating. Was it any wonder he had fallen for her all those years ago?

“No, I didn’t,” corrected Helga, her voice low with terrifyingly sweetness. “We vowed ‘Til Death do you part’, and I’m not done with you yet.”

Ziggy, adrenaline singing, desperately tried to control himself as he bent to pick up the shattered remnants of his substandard gift. “It’s my anniversary present to the most beautiful-”

“Cut the crap. You know what I want,” said Helga. Then, in a throaty whisper, she added, “You always know what I want.”

Holding the demolished fragments of the ancient sword, Zigfried tossed them aside for the ship’s autobots to clean later. “Fine, you know what I want too.”

“That’s right, baby,” said Helga, quickly stripping down to her brass lingerie. “I do.”

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Later, in the warm afterglow of post-coital bliss, they discussed other activities and adventures for their second honeymoon. Odin had given her two full weeks off, and they intended to make the most of it. After all, millennial anniversaries were special. Helga’s accrued vacation hours were more than enough time to visit the pleasure planets on the outer rim, as well as battle a few space-pirates along the way. What better way to spend a romantic getaway?

 

 
*Image courtesy of BigFoto.com.

Friday Flash: Holiday Pains

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Pain surged up his arms, and he wished to Hades he’d listened to the healer and not adopted those damned pets. But the holidays were a time for generosity to all lifeforms as well as celebration. Rather than see the homeless creatures euthanized, he took them in, and now those infernal humans would be the death of him. He popped a few more katha-berries, moaned as he felt the rash rapidly spread across his back, then called for the male and female. “Braaaad! Jannnnet!!” Her and her blasted mate had caused this misery; the least they could do was scratch his back.

 

*Image courtesy of BigFoto.com.

Friday Flash: Gummies

The following story also appears in my short story collection, An Optimist’s Journal of the End of Days and Other Stories, published via Venetian Spider Press.

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So innocent looking, yet so deadly.

That was Karen’s last thought as she looked at the small, colorful gummies sitting on the counter. She had lined them up for tea, thinking they might melt and make nice sweeteners for the steaming brew. Who knew? She wasn’t posh. She wasn’t cultured. She liked her sweet tooth, and if the candy didn’t dissolve she’d still have a treat when she reached the bottom of her china cup.

However, how was she to know that the assorted soft candies left on her doorstep the night before were not from a secret admirer but rather the abandoned children of a lost traveller among the stars? That the traveller’s race, though tiny, was deadly when crossed and not prone to forgiving transgressions? So when Karen unsealed the little plastic package of rainbow colored gummies, she simply released them from their airlocked space. That was no matter; they were adaptable. But they could not, apparently, adapt to scalding liquid.

So as Karen poured the freshly brewed tea into her clean, white china cup, she was ill-prepared for the screams of agony emitted by the little orange gummy resting in its bottom. She gasped and nearly dropped the pot. Then chastising herself for her foolishness, she realized there must have been an air-pocket or something in the candy that caused the squealing noise. Oh well, it’d still taste fine.

She popped the little orange gummy, now flattened and mushy, onto her waiting tongue, bit down, and swallowed. The squealing stopped.

But Orangie’s brothers and sisters started, and soon she lay bleeding on the floor from a thousand small bites. They were insanely fast. As she watched the rainbow assortment of gummies advance on her prone figure, she realized that Orangie was the lucky one.

He had been consumed in a single bite.

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*image courtesy of BigFoto.com

*inspired by a photo prompt at the six minute story site. Again, I ran out of time! But the story was too good to just stop, so I’m posting it here. I hope you enjoyed it!