Category Archives: Mondays Finish the Story

Great sadness….

One of the flash fiction prompts I have recently followed has been the Mondays Finish the Story photo prompt– 150 words inspired by a picture and an initial sentence, sometimes straightforward, sometimes not. To someone who always thought that short fiction was anything under 100,000 words, trying to compose something in no more than 150 was a real challenge, but one which I came to enjoy.

Although I never met Barbara Beacham, the lady who ran the prompt, she was always friendly and encouraging in our online exchanges, and surprisingly willing to put up with the doggerel I composed. I looked forward to the prompt every Monday. It often seemed to bring out the silly and irreverent in me and forced me to stretch myself as a writer.

Two Mondays ago the prompt didn’t appear. I hoped everything was well, but yesterday Barbara’s husband posted a final entry on the blog saying that said she had passed away after an illness. He asked that readers not post to the blog itself, as he will no longer be monitoring it. However, I still wanted to note how this gracious lady, who I never saw face-to-face, helped me grow as a writer. I am better at this business because of her. And that is a truth of this strange world we live in– people we never meet can nevertheless have a powerful impact on you. Barbara’s on me was wholly positive. I am deeply grateful, and very sorry she is gone.

Mondays Finish the Story – Oct. 19th, 2015- The Mystery of the Forest

Mondays Finish the Story for October 19th, 2015— 150 words based on this picture–

© 2015, Barbara W. Beacham
© 2015, Barbara W. Beacham

and this initial sentence–

“Not knowing what to expect, he made his way into the dark of the forest.”

Copyright 2015 Douglas Daniel
*************************************

Not knowing what to expect, he made his way into the dark of the forest.

After a few minutes he came out. “The forest is dark. It is full of trees.”

“Are you sure?” his companions said.

He went back, and took a closer look. “Yes,” he said when he came back out. “I can state unequivocally that the forest has trees in it.”

“There’s got to be more to it than that,” his companions said. “Are you examining the situation with sufficient intellectual rigor?”

“I think so,” he said. “I applied both Platonic and Hegelian logic to the problem. The issue seems to be irreducible.”

“Try one more time,” his companions said.

He did so. This time the wood elves popped their heads out of their hidden burrows. “Hey! Would you guys mind not traipsing about quite so much? We’re trying to enchant some primroses here.”

Moral: It’s rude to stomp around while not seeing the forest for the trees.

Mondays Finish the Story Flash Fiction for Sept. 21st, 2015 – The Holy Mango

Mondays Finish the Story Flash Fiction for Sept. 21st, 2015, based on this image–

© 2015, Barbara W. Beacham
© 2015, Barbara W. Beacham

and this initial sentence–

“She lived in a mango tree.”

Copyright 2015 Douglas Daniel
********************************************
She lived in a mango tree. No one knew why; she hated mangoes.

“Daphne,” people shouted up to her, “you hate mangoes.”

“I know,” Daphne said, knitting a sweater.

Her husband told Daphne he couldn’t live with pollination and fruit flies. Daphne just went on knitting.

Her husband left her. Local news profiled her, then moved on to Justin Bieber look-alike contests.

Psychologists clustered around the foot of the tree, theorizing on her aversion adherence. Several published learned tracts on the phenomenon.

On September 14th, 2019, the Silubrian Horde invaded the Earth. They wiped out humanity in a day.

But not Daphne. Mangoes are sacred to the Silubrians. They elected Daphne Supreme Mango Goddess of the Horde. They brought her chocolate and strange alien liquors that gave her hiccups. In return, she knitted scarves and cardigans for them. These became holy relics for the Silubrians.

When Daphne died, the Silubrians cloned her. Since then, all of humanity have been women who knit.

Moral: As the mangoes, so Man goes.

Mondays Finish the Story – August 31st, 2015- A Day’s Work

Mondays Finish the Story challenge for August 31st, 2015— 150 words around this image–

 © 2015, Barbara W. Beacham
© 2015, Barbara W. Beacham

and the opening sentence–

“The cemetery spread along the area known as Devils Abode.”

I don’t know what’s going on, but I seem to be kinda grim lately….

Copyright 2015 Douglas Daniel
******************************************

The cemetery spread along the area known as Devil’s Abode. It was aptly named; the no-man’s land between the lines. Festering corpses lay between white-washed tombs. The ridge beyond was government territory.

“I see him,” my spotter said. His periscope peeked above the sandbags. “Bunker, just below the ridge-line, by those oaks. Aperture on the left.”

I located the opening through my scope. The bunker was well-hidden in brush, mounded over with earth. I saw movement in the bunker’s firing-port. “I see him.”

“Good. Wind’s from the right, about two knots.”

My cross-hairs centered on the man’s forehead. I held my breath, took the slack out of my trigger.

I hesitated.

“Take the shot. Take the shot!”

I squeezed the trigger. The shot surprised me, as it should.

“You got him!”

I slumped back into the trench. The barrel of my rifle was hot against my shirt. I didn’t care.

It’s not every day you kill your favorite teacher.

Mondays Finish the Story – August 24th, 2015- A Family Visit

Mondays Finish the Story challenge for August 24th, 2015– 150 words based on the following picture–

 © 2015, Barbara W. Beacham
© 2015, Barbara W. Beacham

and this initial sentence–

“The family had no idea that little Luigi would grow up to be…”

Copyright 2015 Douglas Daniel
******************************************
“The family had no idea that little Luigi would grow up to be…”

“Do not speak of it.”

“But, Auntie…the whole world….”

“Silence!”

“…he was such a beautiful child….”

“…Yes.”

“I used to read him stories, remember? He would laugh. Afterwards he would always kiss my cheek.”

“I know.”

“It broke my heart, what he did in Marseille. And then Shanghai. And London…dear God, London….”

“As I said, it does no good to speak of it.”

“Auntie, we have to speak of it. He is coming….”

“…Yes….”

“Where did that little boy go?”

“Power…the world…what some people call ‘real life’.”

“No…something else went wrong. Not enough love…the cruelty of his father, that bastard….”

“Rehearsing it all does not help us now.”

“No. You’re right…. I’m afraid.”

“Courage. He’ll be here soon.”

“But we’re family….”

“Family or no, it’s all the same. All of humanity has to bow to Luigi Cavallo.”

“…Dictator of the World.”

“Do not speak of it….”

Mondays Finish the Story – August10th, 2015– The Mute Witness

Mondays Finish the Story flash fiction challenge for August 10th, 2015– 150 words based on this image–

Ruins – © 2015, Barbara W. Beacham
Ruins – © 2015, Barbara W. Beacham

and this initial sentence–

“Where did they go?”

Copyright 2015 Douglas Daniel

******************************************

“Where did they go?” Syban asked.

“Nobody knows,” Kour said.

The red-stone ruin lay in tumbled silence before them, as if a mute witness to an ancient crime. Hills beyond sported green foliage, but hints of other structures peeked through the growth.

“These ruins extend for many kilometers in every direction,” Kour said. “Here, and in many other places.”

“To come so far, just to find this,” Syban said.

One of her feet stubbed on a stone. “Look,” she told Kour.

Together they dug and scrabbled away the earth, to reveal a stone tablet, meters long. On it were incised sigils– not random marks, but the symbols of some language unknown to them–

N RTHGAT M LL

They stood back to contemplate the symbols, as this world’s shattered moon rose.

“Cryptic, indeed,” Kour said.

Syban sat back on her hind legs. “I wish I could have met them.”

Mondays Finish the Story – August 3rd, 2015– The Interrogation

Mondays Finish the Story flash fiction challenge for August 3rd, 2015– 150 words based on this image–

Copyright 2015 Barbara W. Beacham
Copyright 2015 Barbara W. Beacham

and this initial sentence–

“The team employed the use of Nightshade to get the information they wanted from their captive.”

Copyright 2015 Douglas Daniel.

********************************************

The team employed nightshade to get the information they wanted from their captive.

They listened, stone-faced, to his pleas for mercy.

“I can’t take it!” he cried. “It burns!”

“Tell us,” the male interrogator said.

“I can’t! Please, give me something!”

“Not until you tell us.”

“I’m dying!”

“No, you’re not dying,” the woman interrogator said coolly. “You won’t be that fortunate. Your torment will go on and on– unless you tell us what we want to know.”

“All right! The final exam will have three sections– a multiple choice on kinship patterns, true-and-false on theory, and three choices for a final essay. Please!”

“Here,” the male interrogator said. He handed the teaching assistant a mug of beer across the dinner table. The assistant took it and guzzled greedily, splashing beer on his half-eaten burritos.

“Habaneros,” the male interrogator told the woman. “Works every time.”

Songs to the Blood

Mondays Finish the Story Challenge— 150 words around this image–

Copyright 2015 Barbara W. Beacham
Copyright 2015 Barbara W. Beacham

and this opening sentence–

“The petroglyphs told the story of an unusual event.”

This isn’t very satisfactory, but I gave it a shot.

Copyright 2015 Douglas Daniel
**************************************
The petroglyphs told the story of an unusual event. Everyone agreed on that.

Some said it recorded a great flood. Others that it told of a victory over an enemy.

Still others said it commemorated an eclipse, or the appearance of a supernova in the sky.

But to those of us who had the blood in us, it sang.

It sang in us, and to us.

It sang of stars, and the emptiness of the void.

It sang of solar winds, gas clouds light-years across, and great worlds covered with storms.

It sang of separation, of tears, of bitter parting.

It sang of long years, lost.

It sang, at last, of reunion.

We gathered, those of the blood, to wait among red stones, and open sky, for the appointed hour.

When the Moon was high, and the Sun low, the portals opened, and through them stepped our long-sundered kinfolk, bright and terrible, to reclaim their communion with us.

Mondays Finish the Story – July 13th, 2015– Climbing

Flash fiction challenge for July 13th, 2015– 150 words around this image–

© 2015, Barbara W. Beacham
© 2015, Barbara W. Beacham

and this initial sentence–

“Delphine always wanted to pilot her father’s plane and when he forgot his keys on her tenth birthday, she knew that taking off would be easy.”

This is an utter bit of fluff….

Copyright 2015 Douglas Daniel

****************************************************

Delphine always wanted to pilot her father’s plane, and when he forgot his keys on her tenth birthday, she knew that taking off would be easy.

Nobody told her landing an airplane is the hard part.

“Landing is the hard part, honey,” her father told her over the radio.

“Now you tell me!” Delphine said, as the plane climbed.

“You’ll exceed the plane’s ceiling soon if you keep climbing,” Traffic Control said.

“What happens then?” Delphine said.

“The plane will stall and crash,” Traffic Control said.

“Oh,” Delphine said.

“Honey, you have to push the control column forward to level out,” her father said.

Delphine, who was always directionally challenged, pulled the column back. The plane climbed higher.

“Goodbye, Daddy,” she cried.

On the ground they saw the plane dwindling in the heights. Then the giant alien spaceship zoomed into view. A beam enveloped the plane.

“Such a brave child– what an intrepid climb,” the aliens said over the radio. “Come, join us.”

And that is how Delphine Eloise Novotny became humanity’s first interstellar ambassador.

Monday’s Finish the Story Challenge – Promenade at Sunset

I am a bum. Here’s a piece in response to Monday’s Finish the Story Challenge for May 25th, which is supposed to be 150 words based on this image–

© 2015, Barbara W. Beacham
© 2015, Barbara W. Beacham

and this initial sentence–

“The only residents remaining in the small town of Miners Hill are spirits.”

Well, I modified the initial sentence and went over the limit, so I deserve derision. Feel free.

Copyright 2015 Douglas Daniel
******************************************
“The only residents remaining in the town of Miner’s Hill are spirits,” said the tour guide.

“What a joke!” the loud tourist exclaimed. “You hear this guy, honey?”

“Yes, Howard,” the wife said wearily.

The tour guide smiled. He led us through the streets, telling the history of the old buildings– the Mercantile Bank, where the Gerrity gang shot it out with townsfolk in ’89, the Silver Nugget Lounge, the worst den of sin west of Dodge City, and the jail, out of which Madman Hancock blasted his way in ’73.

“They say that, on moonlit nights, the old townsfolk come out and promenade around, just like in the old days,” the guide said.

“That’s a fine story, mister,” the loud tourist said.

At sundown the guide took us back to the parking lot. The other tourists bundled themselves into their cars; but I lingered, looking back. The guide had disappeared. As the sun went down behind Scorpion Ridge, and the moon rose in the east, I thought I saw men in broad-brimmed hats, and ladies in long dresses, walking arm-in-arm along the dusty streets.