At the Door

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Hello!! And welcome to June . . . already! I have no idea what happened to May. I blinked and it was gone and I didn’t get a thing done. So there it is. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for June, shall we. Anyway, this month’s flash fiction photo is this one:

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And, this is what I wrote for it. Hope you enjoy it!

 

Willow shouldered her pack more firmly as she and the CPS woman walked up the steps to the front door. Someone long ago must have tried to liven the place up by painting it a beachy aqua, but now it was peeling away to reveal the battered wood beneath. Tentatively, she gripped the oddly ornate knocker and rapped sharply twice.

She wondered what would happen if no one answered. Would CPS try to find her a home? Or would they dump her in a shelter somewhere? She’d never find out since the door opened to reveal an elderly woman. This woman wasn’t frail, as Willow thought she’d be, since the woman was her great aunt. Instead, she stood tall dressed in battered jeans and an old flannel shirt. Her gray hair hung in a heavy plait nearly to her waist.

“It’s about time you got here,” the woman said. “You said one and it’s nearly half past three.”

“Well, we—” CPS lady started to say, but the woman cut her off.

“Don’t need no excuses. I’m Carrie Jamison,” she said, directing her speech to Willow. “Come on in now and we’ll get you settled.”

“I’m Mrs. Tanner and I need to go over some things with you,” the social worker interjected.

“You’re over two hours late and it messed with my whole day. You can leave whatever paperwork you have and I’ll read it later. Right now, my great niece needs to come in and see where she’ll be living.”

“Mrs. Jamison—” Mrs. Tanner began.

“That would be Ms., I never married. Never saw a reason for it.”

Willow tried not to stare, as her aunt nudged the other woman out of the way.

“Come on now, I’m sure you tired and hungry.”

Willow stepped inside and looked around at where she’d be staying. The inside was so different from the outside, she almost went back out to make sure she was in the same house. The hardwood floors gleamed and the house smelled of spices and cookies. Willow’s stomach rumbled and her mouth began to water, since breakfast had been at eight.

Willow turned as the door closed and she found herself alone with her aunt. She wasn’t sure what to say, since she’d never met the woman before. Her grandmother had cut her daughter off when she’d gotten pregnant so Willow hadn’t known her mother’s family.

“I don’t know how much you know about your family, but you can call me Aunt Carrie. I know your name is Willow.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Willow said. “And I don’t know anything about my family. My mother didn’t talk about her family at all.”

Hell, her mother didn’t talk about much of anything, but Willow wouldn’t say that out loud.

Her aunt gave a small smile, almost as if she could hear Willow’s thoughts.

“Well, you’ll have plenty of time to learn. I might as well tell you, before you hear in town, they say I’m a witch. Now let me show you to your room.”

She walked past Willow and started up the stairs. All Willow could do was stare after her with her mouth hanging open.

 

That’s it for me. Now go and see what my amazing friend Kris Norris did with it.

To the Stars!

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Welcome to May!! The image we’re writing to this month is an awesome SciFi scene. I was a bit stumped at first, but then remembered the hint of an idea I came up with about  . . . 8 years ago. Hope you enjoy!

 

The meeting room of the Dyson City-State Directorate was huge and imposing. Lush carpeting, marble floors, and an authentic wooden table spoke of absolute wealth. However, it was a wall of floor to ceiling windows that let a visitor know he or she was in the presence of power. The windows displayed a view of the connected walkways, travel tube and buildings of the upper echelon, as well as the top of the dome that protected the city. It truly was an amazing and awe-inspiring sight. Of course, no one in the room noticed the view, they were all too busy yelling and arguing. Executrix Katrill Owen, leader of the directorate and thus Dyson itself, eased back in her chair. She had been in the job less than a handful of days and the council was beginning to realize she could not be controlled. She wondered how long it would be before they tried to murder her as they had her father.

Katrill leaned forward and rapped on the table. The room quieted immediately. “It seems to me a trade agreement with the other city-states would be in our best interest, especially Vorn. We have technology and they have room to grow. If we trade our tech for some of their dome space we can only come out the winner.”

Colin Phipps smiled at her. “Katrill you are new to the council and do not understand the nuances of the trade agreements. If you would allow me to take care of this—”

Katrill turned cold green eyes on him. “Mr. Phipps you are out of order. You do not have leave to call me by my first name. As for the trade agreements, I understand them quite well since I am the person who wrote them to begin with. If I wish your opinion or assistance I’ll ask, but I doubt that will happen.

“In any case,” she went on, “I’ve already spoken to Executrix Fallon of Vorn and we are in agreement. She and I signed the agreement this morning.”

“What?” Letham burst out. “You can’t do that.”

“Oh, yes I can. The Council is an advisory board only. I have full and absolute authority to make decisions. The agreement is good for every citizen of Dyson.”

Jathan Douglas, her uncle, cleared his throat. “Let us adjourn until next week. I’m sure we are all tired and coming back refreshed will be best for everyone.”

The assembly rose and bowed to Katrill, then filed out of the room. She relaxed back in her chair and enjoyed the silence of the room. When it was empty, the room was fairly pleasant. Of course, it never stayed empty for long when she was in residence. There were always people who wished to come and petition her for some favor or another. Too much, people wanted too much from her, took too much from her.

She stood quickly and paced to the window. The view was magnificent. Walkways lined with beautifully tended gardens created a framework for the sparkle of the dome itself. Katrill never tired of the view. But she wondered how the people, her people on the lower level survived. In her entire life, she had never been anywhere but on the top tier. She knew the building she currently occupied was hundreds of stories in the air, but she hadn’t ventured even ten down, ever. People called Grounders lived in the lower levels of the buildings. They were the caretakers of the buildings, ensuring nothing ever went wrong. The people who lived on the ground or the Stews, as it was called, eeked out a living best they could. Finally, there was the Underneath. Katrill shivered. She had heard stories of the people who lived in the underground labyrinth of Dyson. They were dangerous killers, thieves, answering only to themselves. These were her people, all of them, but how to help them.

The only people who were allowed to even gain an audience with her were the Echelon, the ruling class, and the elite rich of the city-state. And they imagined they could rule her, manipulate her. Never again, she told herself, never again would she allow herself to be taken advantage of, used as if she were nothing. Her father had done this and look where he ended up. Dead. She hadn’t had anything to do with it, contrary to the rumors. But she wasn’t sorry he was gone.

“Katrill.”

She rolled her eyes, once again, she was interrupted. “Yes, Mr. Phipps, what can I do for you?” She turned to face the man who had been her betrothed.  He was a handsome man, or that’s what people told her, with his carefully coiffed blond hair, blue eyes, and impeccable clothing choices. Colin knew exactly what to wear to show off his five-seven frame to its best. Katrill had never found him handsome. In fact, she found him fake and pretentious and a total bore. So, when her father was murdered, she had immediately broken off the marriage contract. Colin had been her father’s choice, never hers. Personally, if her father liked him so much, he should have married him. They would have been very happy together.

He smiled at her as if she were a small child needing to be placated. “I do not like how you speak to me in the meetings. Darling, people must see us as a team. Once we’re married and head the council together—”

“We are not getting married.” Katrill said, firmly. “We have already had this discussion.”  She hated that smile and the tone he used on her.

“Your father’s death has made you confused—”

“No, my father’s death made me happy. I do not wish to contract with you. I never wished it, but he insisted. He is no longer here and I am free to do what I wish. With whom I wish. You will only address me as Executrix, nothing more. You do not have my leave to use my first name, ever. Now get out and do not speak of this to me again.”

He narrowed his eyes at her. “You’ll be sorry.”  He turned and huffed out of the room as Jathan reentered. He raised his eyebrows at Katrill and shook his head. “Your father never should have made a contract for you with that boy. He’s weak. You’d run right over him.”

She gave a slight smile. “But that’s the point. He’s weak and father wanted to control him.” She turned back to the windows. “So how are you this day?”

“Well as to be expected since my favorite niece is upset.”

She smiled at the older man and shrugged. “I’m your only niece, I believe.”

“That’s true.” He gave her a brief hug. “I worry about you. After what happened to your father, I don’t think it’s safe. You need some type of body guard, someone who can watch over you all the time.”

Katrill sighed. “Uncle, we’ve been through this before. I do not want someone living with me, getting in my way.”

He paced about and Katrill smiled. Jathan Douglas was her mother’s only brother and Katrill loved him dearly. Since her mother had died when Katrill was very young, Jathan was the only connection she had to the woman who had given life to her. From image cubes, Katrill knew her uncle had the same white blond hair and clear green eyes. The same eyes her mother passed to Katrill. Though Katrill had chestnut hair, like her father, mores the pity.

“What about a Bio-Guard?”  Her uncle asked.

Katrill shrugged. “I don’t know much about them.”

“They are human animal hybrids specifically engineered to be whatever a person wishes. Some want just a pretty pet and others, like you, need protecting. From what I understand, once an imprint happens, they are loyal to the death.”

“Yes, but I don’t want anyone—”

“Katrill,” her uncle cut her off. “They are essentially animals. You feed and water them, and give them a place to sleep. It’s not as if you’re sharing your home with a person.”

Katrill sighed, her uncle worried about her so much. She understood why, she was the only link he had with his beloved sister. Maybe she should look into a Bio-Guard. What could it hurt? If she didn’t find something that pleased her, she could leave.

“Okay, I’ll check into it.”

Jathan smiled. “Good, good, that makes me feel much better. You need to start taking your safety more seriously especially since you plan on shaking up the status quo.”

She kissed his cheek. “How could I not since you worry so? I don’t want that.”  

Now head on over and see what Siobhan came up with.

Wordless Wednesday February 2019

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I wasn’t sure what I was going to do for Wordless Wednesday . . . other than not be wordless, obviously. Then I thought about just how gray and horrible it’s been here for days and days. It either snows or rains (usually rains) pretty much every day. So, yeah, it’s time for beautiful flower pics. The pics are from botanical gardens I’ve visited over the last few years. Enjoy!

 

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Jessica     Bronwyn     Siobhan    Kayleigh

 

 

An Image in the Mirror

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I really like our flash fiction picture for February. It took me a bit to come up with a story, but one it hit I was off and running. Hope you like it.

Sophia stared at herself in the mirror. She saw a woman with cool eyes and serene features, but that wasn’t the reality. The reality was she was scared shitless. Who wouldn’t be when her parents were going to sell her to the highest bidder? Oh, no one called it that, of course. They were too classy to call the “coming out” ball an auction, but that’s what it was. Women, girls really, were paraded around for the wealthy Coadjutors to view and, if one was to his liking, he approached her parents or guardians to work out a deal.

Sophia knew her parents would hold out for a large payment since she was a virgin. It wasn’t a secret either since it said so right in the catalog that was handed out to each Coadjutor as he entered the enormous ballroom. If she could, Sophia would run away, but there wasn’t anyplace to go. Her parents owned her until they sold her to the highest bidder.

Closing her eyes, she breathed in and out of her nose, trying to get her pounding heart under control. It really wasn’t any use though since she was scared. Okay, she was terrified and deep breathing wasn’t going to fix that.

“What are you doing?” her mother whispered angrily in her ear. “Turn around and smile.”

Sophia looked at the woman who had given birth to her and felt nothing but contempt. From the moment she could understand anything, this woman had explained that she was a commodity. They were raising her to elevate themselves. That was it. So, they’d put money into her. Giving her dance and voice lessons, teaching her comportment all so that she could be sold into wealth and power.

Pinching the underside of her arm, hard, her mother yanked Sophia across the room to where her father waited. He stood next to a man older than he was and she crossed her fingers that they were just friends.

“Ah good,” her father said, with a smile. “This is our daughter, Sophia. She is only twenty-two and a virgin, so her power is untapped and ripe.”

Sophia forced herself to stand perfectly still because, she knew, if she moved at all, she would run. Run and never stop.

The man she didn’t know looked her up and down. “I will need to check. I cannot take your word that she’s a virgin. My Daimon would not be pleased if we were to offer for her then found out she’d already been taken.”

“Of course,” her father said, “I understand. I’ve already reserved a room.”

Before Sophia could react, her mother and father had her by the arms and were dragging her into a small room that held a shelf bolted to the wall and a chair.

“Don’t give him any problem, girl,” her father said and backed out the door.

The stranger gripped her chin in his large hand and tilted her face up. Turning her head left and right he studied her.

“You’re pretty enough,” he pronounced. “Now pull your dress up and sit on the table.”

“Excuse me?” she finally forced out.

“I need to check to see if you’re a virgin. Get on the table and spread your legs.”

Sophia stared at him. “Have you lost your mind? You are not going to touch me.”

He smiled. “Oh, I like a fighter. Yes, this will be quite good.”

He grabbed her and wrapped an arm around her waist and he tried to shove a hand up her dress. Sophia fought, but could feel his hand run along her leg. He began to pant and rub himself against her so she tried to kick out at him.

“That’s right,” he said, “yeah, squirm around and fight.”

Sophia held back a sob as she fought harder, then he released her as she staggered forward. Spinning, she found a man she didn’t know holding a knife to her assailant’s throat.

“Doesn’t look like she wants your hands on her,” the new man said conversationally.

“I don’t,” Sophia said.

“So, love, what do you want me to do to him?”

Without hesitating Sophia stepped forward, raised her dress and kicked the man who attempted to assault her right between the legs. Crying out, he dropped to the floor and cradled his genitals.

The unknown man smiled and bowed. “Well, I guess that fixed him. I’m Raiden.”

“Sophia,” she said and curtseyed.

He held out a hand. “Come, let’s get out of here.”

Smiling, she took his hand figuring anywhere was better than where she was.

 

Jessica     Bronwyn   Kayleigh

What a dump!

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Welcome to the first photo flash fiction of the new year!! Obviously, we’re using the pic above to write a short piece. I can’t wait to read what the other bloggers are going to do with it.  Hope you enjoy what I came up with.

 

“Okay, take off the blindfold.”

Andromeda really didn’t want to. She hated surprises, especially the surprises her younger sister Rhea presented to her. Usually, the surprise involved some kind of horrible decision that Andromeda would have to get her out of. Crossing her fingers that this time would be different, she slowly pulled the blindfold off.

The room she found herself in was all wood. From the ceiling to the cabinets that lined the wall. The floor could possibly be wood too except she couldn’t see for all the trash, broken glass, and paper that was strewn about. Bare wires dangled from the ceiling where some kind of light fixture probably hung at one time.

“Well?” Rhea said, practically bouncing on her toes.

Without thinking, Andromeda uttered Bette Davis’s oft-quoted line. “What a dump.”

Rhea gasped. “What are you talking about? I know this room looks rough, but wait until you see the rest of the house.”

Rhea grabbed Andromeda’s hand and dragged her out into an equally dismal hallway. Large holes decorated the walls as the main stairway sagged dangerously.

“This will be the perfect place for a bed and breakfast,” Rhea enthused. “All it needs is a little work. There are a lot of bedrooms upstairs and the kitchen is huge, and, as you saw, there’s a butler’s pantry.”

Andie rubbed her face. “Bed and breakfast?”

“Yeah, you know, the B&B we always talk about opening. Now that we have our inheritance it’s the perfect time.”

“I have a job with a fairly prestigious hotel. I like it. It gives me a salary and benefits. And, my portion of the inheritance is going to help me finally buy a home.” Andie looked around at the disaster surrounding them. “Besides, even if I would think about throwing away everything I have and opening my own inn this wouldn’t be the place. It needs way more than a little work. I’m sure the electrical and plumbing all need to be updated as well as the HVAC system. From the brown stains on the ceiling it needs a whole new roof. So yeah, the best thing that can happen to this place is it burns down.”

She turned to find Rhea staring at her with wide eyes. Wide guilty eyes.

“What did you do?” Andie asked.

“Well it’s the perfect place,” Rhea repeated herself. “So, I bought it.”

“You what?”

“I bought it,” Rhea said, her voice firmer this time. “I signed the papers this morning.”

“What were you thinking? You can’t afford this place. It’s a wreck, but I’m sure with the land and as big as it is, it’s not cheap.”

“No, there you’re wrong. I bought it outright so there’s no mortgage.”

“How?” she asked, though the sinking feeling in her stomach already told her how.

“I used our money. I used our money to buy the house. It’s going to be great. Once we fix it up the place is going to be incredibly popular. There’s even a ghost here. That’s going to pull people in since they love that kind of stuff.”

Andie took a breath, then another. Calm down, she told herself. Just calm down. Stay calm.

“You stole my half of the inheritance to buy this dump? And, somehow, you think that’s okay?”

“I didn’t steal it,” Rhea insisted. “I used it to give us an incredibly future. We’ll own our own haunted B&B.”

“Oh, it’ll be haunted alright, since I’m probably going to kill you dead.”

Jessica Jarman    Bronwyn Green   Kris Norris   Siobhan Muir     Kayleigh Jones